A shaded corner isn't usually the gardener's dream, but the challenge of creating abundance in an otherwise barren and uninspiring spot is impossible to resist. Fear not, eager green thumbs, for the effort you put forth into finding out what would grow in less than ideal conditions brings with it the prize of a relaxing nook for the sweltering summer days.
Contrary to my initial expectations, there is a wide array of plants that thrive and bloom in all kinds of shade, so let me list a few that I a had great experience with in my clay soil; all plants are low maintenance and grow healthier from year to year.
Sweet woodruff - beautiful texture, will grow anywhere, just like ivy and vinca, with the added benefit that its foliage is fragrant.
Bugleweed - a plant that looks great all year long, with very dark leaves that sometimes pick up a coppery sheen. Its bloom is surprisingly abundant, even in full shade, and its candle shaped blue and lavender flowers last all the month of May and half of June. It spreads eagerly by runners, and if you let it, it will quickly cover wide areas, which makes it useful for ground covers.
Sweet Violets - they bloom with abandon in anything other than deep shade. Careful, they will take over if you let them, but with the heart shaped leaves and the heart melting flowers, you won't mind.
Coral bells - the young plants start blooming in spring and keep the garden lush with pink flowers till the end of fall.
Navelwort - beautiful foliage, dreamy baby blue blossoms, like those of forget me not, spreads freely, virtually no maintenance. Great for tree underplantings.
Foam flowers - really thrive in full shade and can be used to populate impossible dry northern corners with heavy soils.
Last, but not least, the faithful hostas, whose fragrant flowers often compete with the scent of the lilies.
All the plants above are fast growers and respond very well to dividing, so you can put together a charming shade retreat from plant stock you already have in no time at all.

Author's Bio: 

Main Areas: Garden Writing; Sustainable Gardening; Homegrown Harvest
Published Books: “Terra Two”; “Generations”; "The Plant - A Steampunk Story"; "Letters to Lelia"; "Fair"; "Door Number Eight"
Career Focus: Author; Consummate Gardener;
Affiliation: All Year Garden; The Weekly Gardener; Francis Rosenfeld's Blog

I started blogging in 2010, to share the joy of growing all things green and the beauty of the garden through the seasons. Two garden blogs were born: allyeargarden.com and theweeklygardener.com, a periodical that followed it one year later. I wanted to assemble an informal compendium of the things I learned from my grandfather, wonderful books, educational websites, and my own experience, in the hope that other people might use it in their own gardening practice.