Posted: 20/08/2013 at 13:45
Hi Julie. What sort of size of area are you talking about and what kind of height are you looking for, and are the trees deciduous or evergreen? If you have conifers that can be very inhospitable.
Many hardy geraniums cope with shade but if it's very dry mildew can be a problem now and again. Epimediums and Brunnera are low growing but will cope with dry shade and so will some of the Euphorbias. There are plenty of varieties and easy to obtain.
If the trees are deciduous you have more scope as you can have a nice selection of spring flowering plants and bulbs when the tree canopy isn't there.
That's a start anyway!