The air has a cool crispness; leaves have changed color and are starting to fall; your once lush and productive vegetable patch is withered and brown; but you are a gardener, so you refuse to believe the growing season has come to an end. Still, you have cleared away the last of the harvest and brought in tender potted plants, so what else is there to do? You can plant bulbs for the coming spring, of course!
Wait for the weather to turn cool---according to the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center, "Spring-flowering bulbs must be planted in the fall because they require a sustained 'dormant' period of cold temperatures to stimulate root development. As a rule, the colder your climate, the earlier you plant."
Plan your plantings around bloom times listed in the information for your chosen varieties. For the best show, group bulbs with similar bloom times together---successive waves of blooms can be insured by staggering grouped bulbs within the same beds, so that new flowers emerge as others die back.
Design your beds to position shorter plants in front where they can be seen, or plan to place very early small bulbs such as crocuses and snowdrops throughout the lawn for a welcome display at winter's end.
Sort bulbs according to recommended planting depths on packages, choosing the largest bulbs to plant first, as they must be planted more deeply--approximately 4 times the depth of your bulb's diameter--for example, a 2-inch bulb in an 8-inch hole, or a 1-inch bulb in a 4-inch hole.
Toss bulbs randomly across the ground where you would like them to emerge, for a more natural look. Use a bulb planter or small trowel to dig a hole for each bulb. Plant several (pointy side up) in clusters for a more attractive appearance than can be obtained with a lone bloom---and remember that odd numbers look better than even, so plant at least three in any given spot.
Arrange bulbs on the surface of newly turned soil in beds for formal plantings; dig furrows to position them all together at the proper depth.
Plant medium-sized and smaller bulbs successively, using the same techniques, modifying depth of planting to suit to size of your bulbs, and being careful not to disturb bulbs already in place deeper down