Types of shade
There are various degrees of shade. Light shade means slight shade for all or most of the day; partial shade means plants are in sun for some of the day; dappled shade is blotchy shade created when the sun filters through overhead foliage.
For shady places with dry or damp soil it pays to be selective - some plants thrive in these conditions. You can even find plants that suit really difficult situations such as shady watersides or areas under large trees whose roots suck all the moisture out of the ground in summer. If you have borders of moist but well-drained and humus-rich soil in light shade, you can grow choice woodland species which need exactly these conditions.
Find plants to suit your conditions, with Alan's recommendations: