If you live in a wooded area, or have a section of yard that is largely shaded by buildings or trees, you don't have to resign yourself to bare dirt and moss. Shade-loving plants can provide color and texture to those areas of your yard and garden that receive very little sun.
Domesticated varieties that derive from woodland wildflowers do well in heavy shade, provided they receive enough moisture. Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) has showy white blossoms, while Dutchmen's breeches (Dicentra cucularia) and Bleeding Heart (Dicentra exemia) all have delicate blossoms that show up in early spring.
Grape hyacinths (Muscari), Lily of the Valley (Convularia) and Bluebells (Scila) all provide color in early spring and are a good choice to plant in the shade of deciduous trees, so that the flowers bloom before the shade is deepest.
Skip the sun-worshiping geraniums and petunias at the nursery and select annuals that provide a splash of color in shade. Impatiens come in red, orange, pink, purple and white and will bloom most of the summer. Nicotiana, Lobelia, Fuschia and wax begonias are other colorful annuals that thrive in shade.
Almost all ferns do well in shade and their lacy foliage provides a delicate contrast to the brightly colored blossoms of annuals. Caladiums feature multi-colored leaves with sharp contrasts that stand out well in shade. Depending on the variety, caladium leaves can be up to two feet across.
Border grass (Liriope) has dark green spiky foliage that makes a great border planting, crowding out grass and weeds. Once a year it may send up purple spiky flowers, but the plant is most prized for its foliage. Buglewood (Ajuga) is another flowering plant more prized for its foliage, which ranges from deep green to coppery bronze. Both do well in shade.