Posted: 30/10/2014 at 18:07
Hi Rowie. I think you've had some excellent advice here! the challenge with planting under trees is that 1. they block light (when in leaf) 2.they act like an umbrella, so little rain gets through to the soil immediately underneath 3 they suck up an awful lot of moisture, so the end result is the dreaded "dry shade". There are plenty of plants that will thrive in these conditions though, many of which have been suggested. If you plant some early flowering spring bulbs, these will do their thing before the tree comes into leaf and then quietly fade away until the next year, whilst the other plants people have suggested start to come into their own. To the excellent suggestions already made (especially Geranium Macrorhizzum, fab plant for this situation and brilliant for lazy gardeners, as it needs no pampering) I would just add Epymediums - the flowers are not terribly spectacular, but pretty enough in spring when they have also have lovely vibrant green leaves, they will grow in the driest spot right near the trunk of the tree. Some varieties also have lovely leaf colour in Autumn - although not mine, it seems!. I've never seen them in the garden centre, so you are probably best looking online for these. Like all perennials, they can be quite pricey but they will spread really quickly and you can divide them after a year or so to get lots of new (free) plants.