The cherry blossoms are gone from the trees that ring the Tidal Basin, but that's no reason for skipping a horticultural visit to that neighborhood.

Tulips are blooming both in the parkland on the north side of the Basin, opposite the Jefferson Memorial, and in the median strip of the adjacent northwestward extension of Maine Avenue.

And they are gorgeous! They're the prettiest mass of tulips I've seen since a springtime visit years ago to Egeshov Castle in Denmark.

If you can't get down to the Tidal Basin, then savor some of the downtown parks. The flower beds of McPherson Square, south of K Street at 15th Street NW, are a wall-to-wall display of variegated magenta and white tulips.

Ah, gorgeous springtime in Washington!

But it's not all pleasure. The dandelions also are in blossom, as any homeowning lawn keeper must be noting. There are benefits to living in a high-rise. Back-Home Products

An item in The New York Times yesterday noted how members of Congress keep home town or home state goodies available for visitors: raisins in the office of Sen. Pete Wilson (R-Calif.), cranberry juice in the office of Rep. Gerry Studds (D-Mass.), peanuts and Coca-Cola in the office of Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).

That reminded me of the most startling back-home product I ever encountered in my years covering Capitol Hill. Entering the office of House Majority Leader Hale Boggs (D-La.), I was startled to see a jug of Tabasco sauce on the corner of his desk.

Boggs died in an airplane crash in Alaska in 1972 and his widow, Corinne (Lindy) Boggs was elected in his place. And, yes, Lindy Boggs' press secretary said yesterday, she maintains the tradition: There's a 12-ounce bottle -- for most folks, more than a lifetime supply -- on her desk, too. GWU Clears the Air

Here's one more victory for nonsmokers (or defeat for smokers). Recently a new policy was signed by Lloyd Elliott, president of George Washington University, that prohibits smoking in all university and medical center buildings, except in areas specifically designated as "smoking permitted." The exception is private offices, but their occupants must be prepared to make adjustments for visitors and neighbors. In shared offices, a nonsmoker can veto his companion's decision to smoke.

The rule is in effect in the waiting room for GWU Hospital's emergency room. (Now, if only they would smash the TV set in the waiting room, constantly tuned at high volume to soaps and game shows, it'd be a reasonably pleasant place to await medical attention.)

The restriction on smoking "is an important part of the university's emphasis on wellness . . . to create a . . . healthier environment for all members of the university community and visitors," Elliott said. Signs Back at Work

Last week this column noted that the electric signs telling Chain Bridge and Canal Road motorists to use either one or two lanes had been out of order for some time. Yesterday I drove along Canal Road and can cheerily note that the signs have been restored to working order.