Answer: Based on your description it sounds like the areas must be partly shaded. Some plants to consider for partial shade (morning sun or dappled light all day) would include: hosta (there are many different sizes shapes and leaf colors available), columbine, perennial geranium, ceratostigma (plumbago), liriope, golden moneywort, and astilbe. Ferns can also add texture and color. Where the shade is cast by trees, you could also try some early spring bulbs such as crocus, daffodil, wood hyacinth, and snowdrops. With a little experimentation you will see which plants do best for you and can work from there.
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