1. Lungwort or Pulmonaria
Lungwort gets its name because long ago people believed it looked like a lung and actually tried to treat lung diseases with it. This perennial plant is best grown in full to partial shade. Keep in mind that most trees have not leafed out when it blooms in early spring and the weather is still cool and damp.
2. Aspidistra elatior Variegata
The Aspidistra will make a handsome foliage plant to 60cm or so and only needs a little bit of attention to stop its foliage being ruined by snails.
3. Aucuba japonica or Rozannie
A Japanese shrub, with the common name of Japanese laurel, that’s usually seen in variegated forms. This has glossy, straight green leaves that are quite beautiful in the shade. As a bonus, this hermaphrodite form will produce large crops of long-lasting red berries on a bushy, metre-tall shrub.
4. Digitalis or Foxglove
Most Foxgloves are biennials, which means the same plant does not return every year, but the plants usually reseed, which makes them come back year after year. If you would like a plant that will brighten up a dark space with beautiful colors then Foxgloves are for you.
5. Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae
This is a shade lover in a usually sun-loving genus. It produces a suckering thicket of deep-green foliage topped in late winter with heads of lime-green bracts. Be careful where you release it, as it’s very hard to get rid of if you need to, but what a great plant for dry, root-infested shade. Prune the owered stems at ground level after blooming and control its wayward tendencies, and you will love it.
A foamflower is a wildflower that needs partial to heavy shade. Their large quantity of blossoms can withstand a couple of hours of direct morning sun tops. They are a close cousin to coral bells, another favorite shade-garden plant. These trusty perennials make a good groundcover plant, as many are trailing types that form dense mats of foliage.
7. Plectranthus oertendahlii
This is another frost-tender plant, but one that may be a bit of a thug in warmer climes. It trails along the ground and can cover quite some space in a fairly short time. The tops of the rounded leaves are deep green with silvery veins, and the underside is a rich purple. Come winter, it produces tiny, white flowers that certainly light up the shade, as do most others of this worthy and attractive genus, so go Plectranthus nuts!
8. Iris foetidissima
This strappy-leafed plant grows in clumps and has rich, evergreen leaves that are beautiful in their own right. The owers are, for an iris, small and dull in colour, usually cream with brown veins, or dusty mauve with darker veins. But this plant is grown for the huge, green seed pods. As they mature, they split open, exposing orange seeds that are wonderful for ower arranging in the house.