Can you recommend some flowering shrubs or tall perennials?
This is a difficult site, but I have a few suggestions. Google the names and see what you like and read the growing conditions for that particular plant so that you site it correctly.
Epimedium -- low, but a good shade plant for very dry conditions
Mountain Laurel (as you suggested)
Hydrangea quercifolia 'PeeWee'
Two suggested plants from PHS's Gold Medal plant program (see link below):
Itea virginica 'Henry's Garnet'
Clethra alnifolia 'Hummingbird'
I hope you can find some suitable plants from this list.