One of the happiest sights of spring is when the first flowers start to pop their heads above the quickly thawing ground.

If you wish to enjoy a wide variety of flowers in the spring, now is the time to plant bulbs. The classic spring bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils, are reliable and beautiful, but garden centers also carry a large selection of fun and unique bulbs for a full springtime show.

When choosing bulbs, look for early bloomers, such as crocus; mid-spring bloomers, like hyacinths; and late-spring bloomers, such as allium.

Along with spring-flowering bulbs, some fall bloomers can be planted now as well. Saffron crocus blooms in the fall and should be planted now. As the name suggests, this fall-blooming crocus produces saffron, the most expensive spice in the world.

The saffron is harvested from the flowers and can be used in cooking all year round. Another fall blooming bulb is colchicum. Colchicum produces foliage in the spring, which dies back and disappears, and then surprises you with large foliage-free flowers in the fall.

Planting bulbs is quick and easy. Follow the package instructions for planting depth; but in general, bulbs should be planted at a depth 3-4 times the height of the bulb. The pointy tip, or nose, should face up. Bulbs have the highest impact when planted in groups, so dig a wide hole to plant several bulbs in one area.

If you have heavy clay soil, amend the soil with compost for better drainage and give your bulbs a little boost by mixing bulb fertilizer in the hole before covering your bulbs. You can even take a “layer cake” approach to planting bulbs by planting larger bulbs in a deep hole, covering them with an inch or two of soil, and planting smaller bulbs on top.

Planting bulbs is definitely a lesson in delayed gratification, but your planning and patience will be generously rewarded when the blooms start appearing early next year to welcome spring!