Answer: Tulips would not be the best choice of spring bulb for a shady area because they need full sun or at least a half a day of strong direct suns. If the shade is from trees you could try some of the earlier blooming bulbs such as crocus, chionodoxa and Siberian squill along with the early season daffodils such as February Gold. This will allow time for their foliage to grow before the trees leaf out and shade the area.
Colorful perennials for shade could include pulmonaria, tiarella, lamium, tricyrtis, and ferns along with hostas (look for hosta cultivars with different colors of foliage and in a variety of sizes and shapes for the most visual interest).
You could also plant the annual impatiens for colorful flowers all summer long. I hope this gives you some ideas.
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