One of the things I learned early on when designing our yard is the importance of light when making plant and location choices. A shady area can be made brighter by the right plant - even without flowers. And lovely plants can look dull and scraggly if exposed to the wrong type and angle of light. Here's a few examples
This white phlox is pretty enough, but when hit by the afternoon sun it positively glows.
Feather reed grass seed heads in the sun create a more striking display than those I have in the shade
Already a bright yellow, black-eyed susans exposed to afternoon light look like they're on fire.
In shady areas I use evergreen plants in a bright yellow color to create the illusion of light and create a focal point in a planting bed.