style="margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-top: 0px; text-align: center;">I don’t know about your weather but it has been rather lovely here outside Chicago.  I am frantically planting bulbs knowing the clouds and cold are on their way.
We have so much more room for our roses and perennials thanks to our garden expansion and I recently hit the jackpot and found tulip bulbs for sixty percent off!!!  I did not make an official count but I do think I bought around 300 for $40. 
 The Budget Gardener strikes again! 
 (Did I ever tell you about the Red Bud I found for $7.00!!!!)
Aidan and I have been having a lovely time together while the girls get their afternoon nap.  Thankfully he still takes a nap but I love to treat him to skip it a couple times a week so we can have “Momma Time.”  
You still have a chance to get your bulbs in, I bet if you look hard enough you can still find bulbs on clearance at Home Depot or Costco.  Of course you could always pay full price at those amazing bulb websites too.
Step One:  Consider the Timing.
I have journaled what blooms when and the garden has a nice staggered amount of color from April thru the end of October… in fact I still have patches of color here and there.  By carefully choosing your bloom time you can welcome in Spring the moment the snow melts.  If you have never bought bulbs before you will notice most packages clearly indicated Early/Mid or Late Spring.  If you buy all three times or at least two out of three you will have a succession of color that will banish March and her roars and April and her showers.
Step Two:  Consider the Color and Height
I have a light cream colored house with black details so this year I chose 18″ Hot Pink Tulips, 9″ White Tulips and Purple/Blue Miniature Grape Hyacinth for my Mid Spring Color. 
For Late Spring I chose dramatic 24″ Black and Hot Pink Tulips.  Though I prefer an all pink, blue and pastel garden I do have a vibrant area of Oriental orange poppies that bloom late spring and darling, delicate wispy little yellow buttons that are around ’til the middle of June.  My Pink tulips should be done by the arrival of the poppies and if not, I will cut them and bring them indoors to enjoy as to not clash with the yellow and orange.
Step Three:  Dig Your Hole
Do I need to say more?  Your package will tell you the depth.  I take a yardstick out just to make sure my eyes aren’t deceiving me.
Step Four:  Plant.
Now, just as recent as yesterday someone asked me which side goes down so here it is: the pointy side goes up, the rough side, where it looks like the roots will come out goes down.  Your packaging will also indicate the spacing.  I never follow these garden rules with anything I plant… an old trick from my Great Gramma… just cram ’em in there!
Step Five:
Water.  Yes, even Tulip bulbs need a little water.
Step Six:  Prevent.
I know everyone has their garden pests and around here mine are bunnies in the Spring, Japanese **&^%%^& Beetles in the Summer and squirrels in the Fall and Winter.  So, to ward off those nasty, long tailed little buggers I plant garlic with my bulbs.  I also sprinkle Cayenne Pepper on my mulch.  See Step Seven.
Step Seven:  Mulch.
I don’t know if this is really necessary but on day 15 in a row of 17 degree below zero in January I always start to wonder if when Spring arrives will everything be DEAD!  So, I simply spread a pile of leaves over my tulip area (these are not the shredded leaves that I will spread over the entire garden in the next week or so) and then I sprinkle them with Cayenne Pepper.  I don’t have any proof that either thing makes a difference but truth be told, I hate planting bulbs and I don’t want Old Man Winter or our dreaded tree rats killing/eating all my hard work.
Step Seven:  Drink Hot Chocolate.
That’s right.  Bust out the garden books, seed catalogs, graft paper and sketches. 
 Dream, plan, chart… and stay warm. 
 Didn’t I say gardening is always about next year???