low-growing plants - suggestions?

Hi folks:
I have several questions for you today. I'm a beginner gardener in Halifax, Nova Scotia, hardiness zone 6a.
I'm planning to put a perrenial bed, possibly two, into my yard this spring, probably in the next week or two.
First of all, what I've already purchased, and have growing: I've got 10 clematis plants happily growing in a sunny basement window right now - I got a good deal on them, they were already growing from their packages, so I potted them to keep them going, figured they'd die if I didn't water them and give them a home. I also have 15 stargazer lily bulbs, and four peony roots. Obviously haven't finished shopping yet (much to my husband's displeasure!)
Location one has a giant boulder along the outer edge of the yard, south side of the house, full sun except for the shadow of the boulder. Some of those clematis are destined to climb up the giant boulder area (I hope). The 'outside' of the boulder faces the street, and is rather steep. I know that from the street, clematis would look gorgeous growing up the rock face once they're established, but I'm afraid my clems might find it too shady over there while they're so young, they'd be in the shadow of the boulder most of the day while they're small. Would they make it?
The 'inside' of the boulder faces my house, and isn't very high. Maybe they'd be better off there, but not so much room to climb on that side. Thoughts? There's some soil on top of the boulder too, and some phlox were planted up there last year, starting to green up nicely now.
Next question, if I were to make a good-sized bed around the 'inside' of the boulder, and had my clematis growing from there, what shorter plants could you suggest to put in front of it? I don't want to block the view of my clems, so I'd like some plants that are shorter, and flower at different times over the season.
For the clematis, regardless of where I end up putting them, I'd like to have some easy-to-manage ground cover around their feet to keep their roots cool while the rest of the plant is in the heat of the sun.
I have four peony roots to plant this year too (another one of those bargain purchases), at least one of which is destined for one end of that bed. I'm thinking icicle pansies for the outside edge (hardy for my Canadian climate), maybe some crocus to pop up around there early in the year. Anyone have any other suggestions for short perrenial plants? I prefer flowers, but greenery is good too.
Next question regards location two, which is an area around the base of some birch trees and a spruce. My husband hates mowing around there because the mower won't fit between, has to use the weed whacker. This would be shady in the summer with the leaves of the trees out. Crocus could work there since they are out before the leaves, possibly even daffodils. What else can you suggest?
Thanks so much!
KD
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com says...

and hardy geraniums. You'd have to check their suitability to Zone 6.
For a little taller, look at bleeding heart, blanket flower, or Jacob's ladder.
There's a book called, IIRC, Perennials for All Purposes. Answers a lot of questions.
--
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