Japanese Painted Ferns (JPF), and other ferns, Astilbe, variegated hosta, any shade loving, variegated plant looks good and brightens up a shady area. Stay away from Ivy, it will rule the area in a short time.
I have had some luck with my small shade garden. One of my favorites is "Dead Nettle" It speads, yet I find it easy to control. The leaves are nicely marked and has lots of pretty little flowers.
I have something that looks like 'Dead Nettle' going wild in my yard. I like it and will have to find out what it is. It grows in little clumps. I also have wild violets and some vines that have pretty little pink flowers on it. Of course that one grows all over the area and looks to be invasive. Would be great on a hillside and just let it grow.
Your shade garden is lovely. I love the plants you have selected. I am just starting one (beginning gardener) and have chosen many of the plants mentioned in this thread. I had originally thought that I'd have to use my shade plants in the woods behind the house, but I had totally overlooked a place right in front that is perfect for a shade garden ... and the neighbors and everyone else can see and (hopefully) enjoy it too. I will start a thread when I gather up enough courage to post pics. :-)
I really like goats beard both short and tall. It gets really tall in the early spring with a very pretty plume on top in early june. If you like ground covers the campanula cherry belles are very pretty. They do tend to take over quickly. But the flowers are very nice on them. hardy geraniums are awsome. They come in all colors. I totally agree with the JPF. Have them love them. Ostrich fern are nice also with the swaying in the breeze, but take over and spread also. Of course my absolute fave garden plant is the ligularias. I have about seven different varities and love them all they get a very nice flower on them. Some more of a daisy flowers and some a spiky flower. Does not matter to me I like them all. Othello is the largest one I have. My lil rocket and bigger rocket are about to blossom right now. Shade a damp ground is what they love. Believe me they are definatley getting the damp ground right now we have had so much rain!!! Just got done storming a few minuets ago here. Ronna
This Giant Hosta garden is new this year.Ghost Fern,Painted fern,Bradford Rambler fern,Lilies at the edge where sun gets in.
Hostas Drinking gourd
Blue Mammoth,elegans,Astilbes Ostrich Plume,Rhienland.