For the shady part of the shrub border, plant shrubs that either thrive in or tolerate shade. This will produce a shrub border that is equally attractive from every angle. Even the shrubs planted on the side that gets the smallest amount of sunlight will grow thick and lush, because you planted it with shrubs that grow best in shady spots.
Oakleaf Hydrangea: Growing well even in dry shade, oakleaf hydrangea,Hydrangea quercifolia, is a woody, shrub-like hydrangea growing 6 to 8 feet high. The leaves are large – up to 8 inches long and 6 inches wide – and their deep lobes resemble oak leaves. The cinnamon-colored bark on the stems gets more attractive as it starts to peel off. The large clusters of white flowers can be up to 12 inches long and 4 inches across. They bloom in late May and early June.
Bottlebrush Buckeye: A multi-stemmed shrub, bottlebrush buckeye, Aesculus parviflora, grows about 9 to 12 feet high and about 15 feet wide. The flowers bloom in June and July and greatly resemble cleaning brushes commonly used to scrub bottles. The white, tubular-shaped flowers grow in panicles on upright spikes, opening from the bottom up. The prefer to grow in rich, moist soil in partial to full shade. Bottlebrush buckeye is intolerant of dry soil, especially when young before its roots system is well-established. It is hardy through USDA zone 5.
Dwarf Witch Alder: Flowering in early spring before it leafs out, dwarf witch alder, Fothergilla gardenii, has dark green, leathery leaves that resemble those of witch hazel. In autumn the leaves put on a spectacular display of reds, purples, yellows and oranges. Dwarf witch alder produces fragrant, creamed-colored, bottlebrush-shaped flowers in April and early May. It slowly grows to a height of 2 to 3 feet and takes a compact, mounded shape. Witch alder will grow equally well in sun or shade. A taller variety, commonly called mountain witch alder, F. major, grows 10 feet tall or larger.
Leatherleaf Viburnum: An imposing presence in the shady shrub border, leatherleaf viburnum, Viburnum rhytidophyllum, reaches 15 feet high and equally as wide. True to its name, it has thick, leathery but wrinkled, evergreen leaves that are up to 7 inches long and 2 inches wide. The white flowers bloom in May and are borne in small clusters made up of tiny blossoms. Give them a lot of water when they are getting established, but ensure their soil is well-drained.