Posted: 10/08/2017 at 14:29
As Borderline says, the Acer should be fine in a bit of shade. It and your other plants might be struggling due to your soil. Did you add compost to the soil after creating your beds? I completely get what you are aiming to do with low maintenance shrubs and stones. Some of us love spending a lot of time tending our beloved gardens, some of us don't!
If you are planning to plant shrubs/ small trees it will be important to feed the soil with some compost to get them off to a good start. Once they have got established, they shouldn't need much fussing but they will grow so inevitably some maintenance will be involved, even if it's just a light prune every year.
Plants can cost a lot of money and I would echo Kitty's advice and go to a GOOD garden nursery or centre where you can look at different plants and get some advice before you buy. A knowledgeable garden centre employee should be able to tell you about how big things will get, what sort of conditions the plants need etc. They should also be able to tell you about things that are not currently in season (so unlikely to be in stock at garden centres) - this just simply means they are not flowering or fruiting or displaying lovely foliage at the moment - but that you would probably be able to order.
Having said all that you might want to consider googling "Chusan palm". This is fully hardy. I have one in my garden. It was here when I arrived and has probably only grown four foot in the last 18 years. I reckon it might be about 50 years old and the trunk is probably only 8 foot now. Does need quite a bit of space for the leaves though. Fatsia Japonica might give you the jungly look you are after. Or perhaps you could consider large grasses, including bamboo? (definitely get some professional advice on the latter, as some varieties of bamboo can be really invasive).