Veronica Richardson and Nadia Florence of the Flower and Plant Association, a trade organisation for the cut flower trade, grade three bunches of tulips:

Sainsbury's: pounds 2.99 - 12 for the price of 10, special offer.

Stem length: 42cm. Life expectancy: two to three days.

Comments: Size of heads varied. Quite bruised - possibly too many in the bucket. Fairly straight, but the little one that bends over and has a thin stem is immature, and should have been graded out. Marks: 2/5

Street market: pounds 1.50 for five. Stem length: 36cm. Life expectancy: four days.

Comments: The leaves are a good indication of quality, because they tend to go before the flowers. There is a nasty black patch of botrytis rot, caused by trapped moisture. They've been wrapped in a plastic bag too long. The bottom of the stems are drying out a bit and becoming discoloured - it would be very important to trim them. But they probably started out as better-quality tulips.

Marks: 21/2/5

Paula Pryke, upmarket florist in north London:

French tulips, pounds 2.50 a stem.

Stem length: 72cm. Life expectancy: five days.

Comments: These are grown for their dramatic length. Lovely colour. Nice and straight - they've been well-conditioned by the florist. But the leaves are dirty and cracked.

Marks: 3/5