I don’t know about you, but I love spring bulbs (tulips, daffodils) that are planted in the fall. They are so reliable and cheerful and add color to a dreary spring landscape.
But did you know that the shallow roots of bulbs keep grasses from moving into a food forest guild? Grasses, though planted deliberately by many orchardists, are surface feeders and thus vie for nutrients with trees, whose principal feeding roots also lie near the surface where most nutrients reside. Eliminating grasses near fruit trees will lessen the need for fertilizer.
Bulbs should be planted in a circle at the drip line of the tree based on its full-grown size. Since bulbs curtail their growth in early summer, they won’t rob water from the tree as the heat comes on. Useful bulbs include daffodils, camas, and alliums.
Because bulbs flower so early, I wonder if they benefit pollinators hungry for early food. Apparently, opinions are mixed. According to Dyck Arboretum in Hesston, Kansas, “Many highly hybridized bulbs do not benefit pollinators, but other heirloom or species varieties certainly do. To benefit early spring pollinators in your bulb garden, install a few North American species or try to find unhybridized varieties that retain their full species name and their ecological importance.”