what do you recommend for open shade in zone 4?

I want to put a flower bed under the 12" overhang on the north side of my garage. The ground is probably kind of alkaline because it will be up against a new concrete slab. I have a bunch of compost I can mix in.
I'm not really wild about hostas.
Some kind of ferns? Caladiums? Peppermint? (not sure peppermint is a good idea) Nicotiana? Wax begonias? Frilly red leaf lettuce? Impatiens?
Thanks, and best regards, Bob
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If you're like most folks and only know a couple different hostas-- take a look through the slide show at this site- http://www.hostalibrary.org/firstlook/FirstLookHomePage.htm

If you're far enough south so they can be perennial then Caladiums should be good.
The peppermint might not like the lack of direct sun. I've got a patch on the north side of a building & it is surviving, but isn't really happy. [Though I'm in Zone 5- if you're south of me the 'north' side is more forgiving.
I've got a couple of ferns that volunteered years ago & I've encouraged them. They look nice most of the summer.
Another interesting [wild] understory plant that I've had luck with on the north side of my house is Angelica archangelica. It grows about 6-8' tall & has an interesting flower head that stays on the plant through most of the winter. It is edible, too. Roots, leaves & stems are all used for flavoring [anise-like] and candies. There is an image here-
http://botany.cs.tamu.edu/FLORA/schoepke/ang-ar-1.jpg
I think it is either an annual or biennial, but it freely seeds itself & I've had one or two plants every year for at least a decade. If they aren't where I want them I just move them in the spring.
Jim
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In Zone 5 USA on north side protected by a 12 inch high stone wall and my front porch made of concrete. Heat Sink.
I grow Hosta's Northern exposure and Elegant's to name two of eight. Hellebores and Japanese painted ferns (two types Red and Green). Into this mix which also had pansy's for early color (Yellow) I plant Christmas Caladiums which are white and are treated as annuals. A very small bonsai Japanese maple is also hidden in the mix.
Enjoy
Bill
--
Zone 5 In South Jersey USA Shade
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