Good full Shade plants?

We moved into this house last August (renting) and although there are very nice sunny spots where I am going to plant perennial flower gardens, there is one spot whitch is a full shade area (indirect sunlight throughout the day) that I would liek to improve... There a small 1' x 8' planter by the entrance that right now has 3 very squalid hostas a dead rose bush and some rock garden plants..the rest of it is covered in what seems broken red brick pieces. It looks really bad and I would love to have something nice there to welcome people coming to my home... The issue is...I would need stuff that grows fast and is not too picky about the soil since the whole area has a really hard humid soil... I am considering removing some of the top of the soil and adding good planting soil but it will depend on my husbands help since I am 7 months pregnant and digging is not my favorite exercise right now... Any tips on the shade plants I could use is greatly appreciated. I would probably be buying the plants from the nursery instead of growing from seed unless I could guarantee some flowers this season by growing from seed...
Thanks in advance,
FayeC
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Until you can break the soil up I wouldn't expect any plant to do all that well. Stuff hardy enough to hold on in packed soil won't "grow fast" it'll be lucky to tred water not getting smaller each year. Before planting the area work some good compost at least eight inches into the soil, then whatever you plant that is shade-appropriate is going to grow like crazy. You don't mention your zone, but if temperate:
Broadleaf evergreens for deep shade: Camellia sasanqua, aucuba, leucothoe, pieris, oregon grape, & wintergreen.
Ferns.
Bleeding hearts, hardy cyclamens, dogtooth lilies, black mondo grass, Corydalis flexuosa, bluebells, solomon's seals, hydrangea, toad lilies, trilliums, akebia vines, Pacific elderberry, hostas, lamiums...
Here's an index of shade perennials in my gardens: http://www.paghat.com/garden1.html
-paghat the ratgirl
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I highly recommend hostas and heuchera (coral bells) for shady areas. I have my shade garden full of them and they both give me absolutely no trouble at all. I didnt want to do too much digging when I started the bed, so I had a load of top soil delivered and dumped right in the spot I needed it. I then just moved it around a little bit... this made planting so much easier. Also, check out the hellebores for good year round interest, they bloom in the late winter/early spring months.
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FayeC wrote:

I like impatiens and they grow and spread fast. Coleus, caladiums, hostas are also very nice. Ferns and pothos do well in shady areas, though they arent cold hardy.
nina http://dirtythoughts.ninaloca.net My lil piece of garden in the Caribbean.
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nina wrote:

Ferns are cold hardy.
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Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8b
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Travis wrote:

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Do "coral belles" grow in a dense shade area? Half of my back yard is treed, and I am looking for something with color to grow under the trees. I have some grass, but its quite sparse and dose not seem to want to get thicker.
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There are so many varieties & hybrids some probably do, & they are often listed as suited for full shade, but my experience with several varieties is that in general, not as interesting for full shade as so often alleged. I've tried several in full shade, they always "held on" but were ugly or uninteresting until I caved in & moved them to somewhat sunnier spots.

Color in shady areas: White & blue English bluebells; grape hyacinth; hardy cyclamens; red, white, or pink Camellia sasanqua; climbing hydrangea; 'Purple Splendor' azalea, 'Poukhahense' Korean Azalea; Rhododendren occidentale; trilliums; 'Pagoda' dogtooth lily; Douglas Iris; johnny-jump-ups; Labradore violet; brunnera; bleedinghearts; impatiens, pansies, lobelia, columbine, meadow rue, blue panda & purple prince corydalis, lamium, Jacob's ladder, lily-of-the-valley, pulmonaria, liverwort, toad lilies, bishop's hats, tiny wood anemones, huge Japanese anemones, bugbane, forget-me-nots, gentian, ligularia, virginia bluebells, . Some ferns also provide color: purple-leafed Japanese painted fern; pallid Ghost Fern; yellow-striped Indian Holly Fern; sloppy spring-red Autumn Fern.
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There are many types of ferns, some hardy others are not. Some die back to the ground during winter, others stay green.
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