The kind of soil is an important factor when choosing plants for a given area. On one hand Clay based soil can get waterlogged. In dry periods it can go solid and easily become compacted. This is more time consuming to treat since you will have to work it over more but it does have a tendency to be more fertile and retains its moisture much better. It could probably be balanced mixed with sand, this would help break it up. this certainly would make it more free draining. Conversely, Sandy soil, although easier to work will dry out quicker, will not retain moisture as well and will generally lack the bulk of humus matter to enrich the consistency of health. In addition, will be considered less fertile after time and quite poor in substance. Often more substantive material (leaf mould, organic matter, manure) will need to be added to give it some goodness and to improve its water retention.
With Plants in Clay Soil – you should break it up to make it more free draining, allow air to circulate and mix sand into the composition. Shrubs and small trees that sit quite comfortably include Choisya, Mahonia, Pyracantha, Virburnum, Rhododendron, Cotinus, Acer, Juniper, Trees would Sorbus, Malus, Betula but this isn’t exhaustive.
With Plants in Sandy Soil – you would do the opposite. You must bulk it out with humus rich matter and the consistency made thicker. Poppies, Penestemons and Lavender will do well as will Berberis, Elaegnus, Lonicera, Erica, Calluna, Juniper, Hamamelis mollis, Buddleja. Euphorbia, Salvia and Thyme too.
Most Plants will usually tolerate partial shade but never a fully sheltered spot since they need the light for the photosynethtic process (energy/fuel converted from light sources). Some can, however, adapt to a reduced light source (moderate/heavy).
Plants that tolerate Moderate to Heavy Shade
It can be avoided if the shaded area can be altered but there are so many shrubs that can tolerate this, it’s not necessary. Camellia japonica, Hypericum, Euonymous,, Acuba, Skimmia japonica, Taxus, Vinca (major/minor) and Pachsysandra (ground cover examples), Agapanthus, Liriope
Plants for Wet Soil
Again, this can be altered but boggy areas are valuable in the encouragement of bio diverse wildlife. This extends from birds to many beneficial insects that contribute to the food chain.
Hosta ‘Plaintain Lily’, Gunnera mannicata, Monarda , Iris sibirica, Iris laevigata, Rudbeckia, Hydrangea as in the name.
These will accommodate damp conditions and can be incorporated in moist/marshy areas. A variety of Shrubs:
Phormium (New Zealand Flax), Cornus, Salix, Spirea, Monarda
Plants for Poor Soil (tolerate little nutrient/drought conditions)
Sedum, Miscanthus, Carex, Pennistemon, Rosemarinus officianalis, Achillea sibirica and Erginghums, Cotoneasters are popular since they are built for neglect. Have attractive leaves and offer berries and being an evergreen provide interest all year round. Can have a standing shrub and a ground cover variety.
Plants for Humus Rich/Acidic Soil (4.5 -6.5)
Bergenia, Digitalis, Camellia, Pieris, Skimmia, Hydrangea, Rhodoendron, Magnolia, Acer and Azaeleas
Plants for Alkaline Soil (7.0) +
Usually in excess of 7.0 on Ph reading. High concentration of lime/ plants can be deprived of Iron and Zinc which limits the selection.
Alpine Plants could include Aubretia, Sedum, Lithodora, Linaria purperea and Saxifraga – suitable for rockeries, What you will be trying to do is replicate the top of a mountain. Succulents being Aeonium, Echeveria, Crassula *although these usually intended for indoors. Dianathus, , Potentilla fruitcosa, Clematis, Ceanothus as this can be either a Shrub or low growing cover.