Thankfully there are a great many shrubs that will thrive (and flower) in the shade, and just a few days ago my Aesculus parviflora ('Bottlebrush Buckeye') came into full bloom. This is really an outstanding shrub, and the large wispy flowers are mildly fragrant and last a long time. The Aesculus is definitely happy in its home and has produced double the flowers compared to last year.
I planted a grouping of three Hydrangea 'Blushing Bride' shrubs next to the floating deck earlier this Spring, and they have really taken off in only a short period of time. They wilt on hot sunny days, but otherwise this is a wonderful shrub and Hydrangeas are always a great edition to any shady space.
Then (April 2011):
During the 2011 Spring, I have added installed several additional shrubs to my garden, including Viburnum 'Carlesii' and the supremely elegant Hydrangea 'Twist-n-Shout'. Hydrangeas are so hard to resist, and I'm sure to add more of them as soon as I find a place to put them.
My most ambitious project to date in the garden, has been the creation of the Woodland Side Border. I installed a mixed evergreen hedge to the back along the property line last month, using 3 Skip Laurels, 2 Sasanqua Camellias which I transplanted, and 2 Azalea 'Delaware Valley'. These shrubs will provide much needed winter structure. I also put in one more tree, Cornus Kousa 'Samaritan'.
I love my trees, but it's the shrubs that get me most excited each season.