Answer: In my experience, it is very difficult to grow plants well under these trees. The trees' amazing root systems just plain outcompete the smaller plantings below, stealing moisture and nutrients and sometimes light as well. Azaleas, with their delicate, shallow root systems and need for consistently moist soil, just don't stand a chance.
Given the desire for season-long color, impact and reliability, I would suggest using one or more large, imposing containers that complement your landscape and filling them with annuals. Set them on a watering system and be sure to fertilize them regularly for best results. You might also add a bench or small fountain or similar elements to create a scene that is pleasing without relying on plants.
I'm sorry I just can't think of any flowering shrubs or perennials that would meet the criteria and do well under these trees.
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