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Your state's agricultural college and large botanical gardens probably publish horticultural information available online or at your library.

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Canadian Hemlock and Virginia Pine will grow near Black Walnut. I have red twig dogwoods growing within 20 ft of mine, though they prefer sun. Deciduous, the branches turn red with the cold weather. Christmas fern is another idea. I also have ostrich and maidenhair fern. The maidenhair looses it's fronds but the black stems and fiddle heads persist through winter. Yarrow and penstemon Husker Red leaves keep their color much of the year as do some heucheras. I have heuchera Caramel and Marvelous Marble shown below. They keep their colors until the snow drops and start with new growth early spring weeks before any of my other plants and trees.

Early spring Marvelous Marble

Caramel and Marble near big Black Walnut mid spring, and they'll get a lot bigger through the summer.

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I live in Central Texas, zone 8B. Certain bulbs that come up in the fall make excellent winter groundcover under deciduous trees. They don't bloom during the winter, but do cover bare ground with green. Specifically, Ipheon uniflorum (Starflower) sends up short leaves in September or early October and has pale blue flowers in the spring before falling dormant. Rhodophiala bifida (Oxblood Lily) blooms in the fall after a good rain then sends up leaves. Lycoris radiata (Red Spider Lily) also blooms in the fall then sends up leaves that last through the winter. All of the above will expand and bloom year after year with little care. If one decides to divide or move these it is best done in the summer while the bulbs are dormant.


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