I'm always amazed at how much you really can grow in the shade! This garden is a great example of some shade garden vignettes down here at Dutchess County Master Gardener in Millbrook, New York. They have a couple of different settings where they show what you can grow in part shade and then in full shade, even under these big hemlock trees.
In part shade, you can grow plants that have a little more color to them, like the Heuchera or coral bells, and certainly coleus. The leaves on coleus are just amazing with all of the different kinds of colors. But as you get into the deeper shade, you can actually still have a little leaf color, like with Oxalis, especially if you pair that up with something like a Brunnera which has a little frosty white coloring to the leaves. And then in the spring, a lot of these plants will just explode in color, like the Epimedium and the gingers.
There are so many beautiful textures and the leaf shapes and the leaf colors are all really nice.
The key with any of these gardens in the shade, especially if you have deep shade like this under big trees, is to keep them well watered. Because they're competing with those trees for a lot of moisture and they like a nice moist soil, so be out there and keep the soil moist, add a lot of organic matter, mulch and compost in there, and just let them spread. Eventually, they'll make a nice carpet of colors and texture that will just be beautiful to look at almost any time of year.
PO Box 4508