Answer: The light conditions you described would be perfect for a small flower garden of plants known to do well in part shade. You could try some of these perennials: hosta, columbine, astilbe, bleeding heart, perennial geraniums, and assorted sedum varieties. You could also try some of these annuals: snapdragon, fibrous rooted begonia, hypoestes (pink polka dot plant), viola, impatiens, caladium, and annual lobelia. You might even add a few herbs which do well in part shade such as parsley and chives.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to help any plants survive drought (and grow their best in normal years) is to improve the planting area by incorporating copious amounts of organic matter such as rooted leaves, compost, aged stable manure and bedding, and so on. This helps improve the soil structure so it can hold both water and air. Another very good thing to do no matter what you are growing is to mulch your plants with an organic mulch such as straw or shredded bark. This will feed the soil as it rots down, keep down weeds, and help keep the soil both cool and moist.
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