Working with poor soil can be a gardener's worst nightmare. However, planting a garden even in sandy or nutrient-poor soil doesn't have to be a hassle as long as you know which types of plants to choose. There are plenty of annual and perennial flowers that can thrive even in harsh conditions.
Achillea millefolium (yarrow)
Yarrow is a fantastically hardy plant that is quite content to grow in nearly any soil type including heavy clay soil or dry sandy soil. Fond of full sun, yarrow produces multiple small white blooms with a strong fragrance that can attract butterflies. This perennial plant grows well in the UK's climate.
To give your garden a bit of spice, plant the dramatic cockscomb. This unique plant with its brilliantly red flowers thrives in dry, sandy soil so long as it has proper drainage and full sunlight. Cockscomb are annuals and can reach heights of up to 1.2 m (4 feet) tall. They will do well in Ireland and in the South West of Great Britain.
Centaurea cyanus (cornflower)
Also known as bachelor's button, these cheerful little flowers produce bright blue starburst blossoms. Annual cornflowers freely spread their seeds in both sandy and clay soil. Their persistence even with a bit of drought ensures a splash of colour even in harsh conditions. Cornflowers prefer full sun and can be grown in hardiness throughout the British Isles.
Coreopsis tinctoria (calliopsis)
Calliopsis is a hardy wild flower that does not need to be coddled in order to grow well. Standing at 60 cm to 1.2 m (2 to 4 feet) tall, this annual's round yellow blossoms can add a warm splash of sunshine to any garden. Additionally, calliopsis attracts butterflies and seems to hold up well against four-legged garden pests like deer. Give this flower full sun, and it will grow in nearly any soil type, either sandy or poorly-drained heavy soils. Calliopsis will grow best in Great Britain and central Ireland.
Cerastium tomentosum (snow-in-summer)
Plant the perennial snow-in-summer to give your garden the look of a winter wonderland. Gardeners prize this plant for its multitude of snowy white flowers and silvery green leaves. These sprawling plants will grow happily nearly anywhere with sandy dry soil and full sunlight. Snow-in-summer should be planted in the colder parts of Great Britain.
Dianthus deltoides (maiden pink)
Maiden pink are charming little perennials with star-shaped blossoms. Fragrant, cheerful, and easy to care for, these quaint flowers aren't bothered by a bit of drought and will prove resistant to deer. Give maiden pink full sunlight or partial shade with good drainage, and it will handle sandy soils with ease. It will growthroughout mainland Great Britain.
Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian sage)
To add a bit of texture and flair to your garden, consider planting Russian sage. These unique plants can grow colourful spires of up to 1.5 m (5 feet) tall and come in subtle blues and lavenders. Russian sage is incredibly versatile and will tolerate both sandy or clay soils. Although it prefers full sun, it will also grow in partial shade. Durable and drought-resistant, these perennials can be cultivated anywhere in the British Isles.