In my opinion, shade gardens are harder to pull off design wise, but when done correctly, can create a sense of space, peace quiet and nature like nothing else. The riots of color from your average sunny border always bring a smile to my face, but a cool shade garden is the place that makes me want to sit down and feel the humidity, the slight breeze though the trees, and take a deep breath of that green/dirt/growing things smell.
It could also be that I've noticed that sitting down in a not-shade garden here, from May-October, is torture.
My shade garden, which is my SW corner (NE exposure) is the only part of my garden that doesn't get direct sunlight, and it is the part of my garden that has the least cohesiveness to it, despite the fact that it is also the only part that has any actual 'backbone' to it, in the form of the palm tree and small raised bed.
The fact is, my collective images of gardens and experience from my mom's gardens (which has about zero shade in it) has left me without a solid image of how to get what I want. Also, the shady south isn't the shady Midatlantic or Northeast, and a lot of stuff just doesn't like it here... at all.
Now I'm not quite exactly sure what to PUT in the shady spots to make it look like that but I'm working on it.
F is for Ian Hamilton Finlay
12 hours ago