Moisture retentive and well drained - The ideal condition. The retained moisture supplies the plant with water, and the good drainage ensures enough air around the roots.
Wet poorly drained clay soils - Poor drainage can result in the soil being saturated for long periods, especially in winter, causing many types of plants to die. This condition is often due to tightly compacted clay soils, which do lot allow rain water to drain away. Installing land drains will often greatly increase the number of plants which will flourish in this soil. The drainage can also be improved to a lesser extent by digging to break up the compacted soil, and by adding granular or organic material to the soil. If it is not possible to install drains, then constructing a raised bed on the poorly drained soil can help provide better drainage. If none of these improvements are possible, then there are plants, like lythrums and symphytums, which grow well in very wet in winter and dry conditions in summer.
Dry - Some plants flourish in dry soil, and some plants will only survive the winter in very free draining soil. Dry sandy soil can be made to retain more moisture by adding plenty of organic material, especially if this is done annually. Shallow dry chalky soil can be made richer by importing more topsoil. More irrigation in summer will tend to make up for the low natural soil moisture levels.
Boggy - Boggy ground can often be drained. However, it is also an ideal place to grow moisture loving plants like astilbes and gunneras which will not grow elsewhere.
Sun - An open sunny situation will generally produce healthy sturdy plants, and minimize the need for staking. Most of the plants that grow well in shade will also grow very well in full sun (eg hellebores and pulmonarias). There are some plants which are scorched by strong direct sun, for example certain ferns and primulas.
Shade - It is sometimes possible to make a site less shady, for example by cutting down a tree. However this is often not possible, and it is fortunate that there are a number fine plants that grow well in shade. These are generally plants whose wild relatives are found in deciduous woods, like hellebores, euphorbias, ferns and primulas. Many woodland plants flower in Spring, before the leaves are fully out on the trees. However, there are also a number of late summer and Autumn flowering plants which grow well in shade, for example some of the aconitums, anemones and asters.
Sheltered - A sheltered site will protect plants from wind damage, and also greatly reduce water use in summer and damage from cold winds in winter. Many famous gardens, especially those containing exotic and fragile plants, are in sheltered sunny sites. In an exposed garden, planting a hedge or shelter belt of trees, or erecting a wind-break fence, is often the first task.
Windy - Many plants will grow very well in a windy situation, especially those which grow wild in mountains and by the coast.
Many thanks, excellent plant arrived in good condition, will shop with
you again, Regards Graham (Banbury)
The Gunnera arrived safely today. Thank you for your careful packing,
fast friendly service and great quality plant. Three days from seeing
it on the internet to it growing in the garden has got to be a
record! Lorraine (Leicester)