We are in the process of relocating, and I am stumped about an area of our new backyard. It is shaded for most of the day except for in the afternoon. Usually shade plants need only morning sun, so I can't decide what to plant here. The previous owners had the area over grown with English ivy with a couple of scraggly azaleas that seemed to be planted and forgotten about. The ivy sure did well, but I'd like some flowering plants there. I thought about nun orchids (orchids are my favorite), but I'm worried about the hot afternoons. Any suggestions?
I attached a picture. The area faces north and west.
You can try kurume azaleas and sasanqua camellias. Also nandina domestica will grow under those conditions and it comes in several sizes and colors. Daylilies will grow there too and so will mondo grass. Lady fern can take afternoon sun and so can hellebores although their leaves are prone to burn. Ligularia and farfugium are good choices too although ligularia like water. Ajuga will take afternoon sun and so will vinca minor.
I grow Plumbago and Dwarf Pomegranate in both sun and shade. Both bloom in either but more in the sun. I trim the plants in the shade more often to keep them bushy.
Another bit of advice that has served me well when moving is to drive around the area and see what is doing well in other peoples' gardens. No matter how much you like a plant, if you don't see it around anywhere, chances are that it won't do well. I have spent many years and money learning this the hard way.
My favorite book for deciding what to put where or if it will work is 'The Southern Gardener's Book of Lists' by Lois Trigg Chaplin - bought on Amazon.com.