Start by figuring out how deep your shade is.
It may be light, filtered shade cast by a tree with an open crown, dense shade under a conifer or something in between. You should be able to recognize your garden from one of the three descriptions below.
The list of suggested plants at the end of this leaflet also indicates which type of shade each species prefers.
Plants receive a few hours of sunlight during the course of the day. This type of shade is typically cast by trees with an open crown, like honey-locusts. Light shade is ideal for most of the plants in the list.
Plants get little direct sunlight, but plenty of reflected light. These conditions are found near a north-facing wall. Not all plants in the list tolerate medium shade, although many of them do.
Plants receive only a little reflected light, and no direct sunlight. This type of shade is found under trees with low branches and dense crowns, such as Norway spruces. The combination of a north-facing wall and another element such as a tree creates essentially the same conditions. Few plants do well with so little light.