Help with small shade garden, please!

Springfield, IL(Zone 6a)

Hello!

Someone planted a maple tree with the root ball at ground level in our back yard. Fifteen years later, you all know what has happened. I detest the dust that comes up when I mow the small amount of grass growing in patches under it, so I've decided to make a small shade garden under it.

I was told that I can't make it a raised garden because I will kill or damage the tree, so I am going for a ground level garden. I bought some hostas to plant and was thinking about one or two hydrangeas and maybe some hellebores (I know nothing about these but they look really pretty!) with the hostas. I am open to other things as well.

Does anyone have any ideas regarding plant placement or other plants to add to this? I'm not so good with design and would really like to make it look nice. I am attaching a picture of the area and will measure it (I have room to make it bigger or smaller) as well. One side gets sunshine in the morning (southeast exposure) and I am not sure that the other side gets anything but maybe some dappled sunshie. I would love to make a curved edge instead of a "box." All help and suggestions are greatly appreciated! :)

Max depth = 9'
Length = 18'

Thumbnail by SusieR
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