Answer: Sounds like a tough spot for all but the hardiest rock-garden type plants. The tree roots will compete for moisture, so keep the area well watered to help your plants remain healthy. If you plant a variety, you'll have color all summer long. Here are some choices: Achillea (yellow flowers), Gazania (warm oranges, yellows and off-whites), Verbena, Baileya multiradiata (desert marigold), Coreopsis (yellow), Gaillardia (multicolored blooms in red, orange and yellow), Salvia, Zinnia, Santolina and Perovskia (Russian sage). Hope one, or all of the above is just what you're looking for!
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