Answer: Yes, I'd definately improve the soil before planting. Add plenty of compost, but be careful with the sand so you don't end up with adobe bricks! Add a layer of compost/mulch to the top of the soil every season to continue improving it. Here are some flowers for shade: Perennials -- Anemone, Columbine, Astilbe, Campanula, lily of-the-valley, Dicentra, Digitalis, Ferns, Hosta, daylilies, Liriope, Monarda, Pachysandra, Thalictrum, Vinca, navelwort (Omphalodes cappadocica), blue lungwort
(Pulmonaria angustifolia), pinkroot (Spigelia marilandica), bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora) and sweet violets (Viola odorata).
Annuals -- Begonia, Browallia, Coleus, annual Foxglove, Forget-me-not, Impatiens, Primrose, Torenia,
Viola. Bulbs -- Begonia, Caladium, Camassia, Elephant's ears, Lilium, Narcissus, Scilla, Callas.
For shrubs, you might consider viburnums, hypericum, paxistima, shrub dogwoods and hydrangea arborescens.
Try to go to a full-service nursery and look around. Plants under canopies or cover are usually the shade-lovers.
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