Last year I added some Astilbes and ferns to my very small shade garden. The shade garden is a 3' x 9' strip in a corner of our yard that we don't often go into - other than when taking out the garbage totes, which we store next to the strip. Before I made it into a shade garden, it was an empty space, filled with river rocks and requiring constant weeding - which of course didn't always happen. Its backdrop is the back of our neighbor's garage, which is not in good shape. The purpose of planting the shade garden was to draw attention away from the garage, to give some life to a very boring area of the yard, and to reduce weeding time. Despite its small area, it actually took me a few years to complete, mostly because I just didn't give it the attention it needed.
Recently, the very existence of the shade garden has been threatened, because that area may become part of our patio design plans. This is the first year where it has really been complete, and it has become one of my favorite garden areas. All of the plants look great (including the lilac bush, which almost died two years ago after being transplanted there). The various leaves complement each other well, and the plants have grown large enough to fill in their spaces - meaning there is very little room for weeds.
I especially love the Astilbes with their tall, beautiful plumes. There are three red Astilbes, and one white (not exactly sure any more why I did that, but it works for now). Hopefully we can figure out a way to incorporate the shade garden into our patio plans!