One of the reasons itbs so difficult to get things growing in shady areas is that those places are often relatively dry. Roots from trees can actually deplete the soil of available water, leaving other plants starving for it.
Here in the mountains of Colorado at 8,000 feet, I have experimented with a few plants that create beautiful texture and color in shade.
Hosta bBlue Angelb has been a great choice for its large, crinkly and, you guessed it, bluish leaves.B I have not had as good luck with some of the variegated Hostas like bmediovariegatab, but occasionally we get a great contrast with one.
Bergenia cordifolia bWinterglutb also has large round leaves, but smooth and waxy with a brilliant fall red color.B They are evergreen even here, and have one of the earliest bloom times, with clustered pink flowers held above the plant on a stalk.
Primroses– just your motherbs garden variety– do beautifully here, continuing to bloom on and off throughout the summer since our nights are cool. They make cheerful clumps of bright yellow, purple, blue, and white as soon as snow melts and really herald the on-set of spring!