what can i plant near magnolia trees?

i am a new gardener (very inexperienced). recently moved into new home and there are 3 magnolia trees in the front yard and i would like to create some kind of flower bed underneath them...what type of foliage would be best? i live near Atlanta Ga., and the area gets morning sun and afternoon shade(not sure what 'zone' i'm in). please help! Jennifer
Submitted by BHGPhotoContest

Take a look at the BHG.com Garden Plans--the "Beginner Garden for Shade" will work in your area with the exception of one plant listed. You are in hardiness zone 8, so the False Spirea (Astilbe) won't take the heat. Here is a list of possible substitutes: Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis), Columbine (Aquilegia), Daylily (Hemerocallis), Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), Siberian Iris (I. siberica), Japanese Iris (I. kaempferi), Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis), and Woodland Phlox (P. divaricata). Magnolias have dense fibrous root systems, so digging to plant will be challenging. Start small, say one grouping of 3-5 plants, and work outward from there. Mulch the new garden with 3-4 inches of shredded cedar or cypress mulch. After the labor-intensive installation, all you've got to do is water about once a week during the first season so the plants can become established.


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