Dear Miss Floribunda,

What would be an easy thing to plant for a hedge tall enough to screen out my next-door neighbors’ back yard? I like the neighbors, but they seem to think that plastic lawn furniture and statuary from tacky roadside souvenir stands is the ultimate in elegance. I have broached the subject of a hedge to them on the grounds that I like to go out in the backyard in the mornings to drink my coffee, and don’t want to have to get fully dressed. The remarks I got were as tasteful as their lawn decor but they told me if I wanted a hedge they would help me plant one.

None of us could qualify as a good gardener. I don’t think the soil is very good, and I don’t want to go to the trouble to improve it. Please recommend something we can pretty much stick in the ground and forget.

Lazy on Livingston Street



Dear Lazy,

The only plants that would meet your criteria are indigenous, and fortunately you will soon be able to take advantage of the Hyattsville Elementary School PTA Third Annual Native Plant Sale. The address is 5311 43rd Ave., and the dates are Saturday, May 19, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m and Sunday, May 20, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Go early because word has gotten around and competition is keen for the easy-care treasures that are featured.
Looking at their list of more than 40 native plants, I see several shrubs that would fill the bill for you: they tolerate poor soil, poor drainage, are disease free, and do equally well in sun or partial shade. The American holly and the inkberry (a variety of holly with black rather than red berries) would be evergreen. Faster growing would be the spicebush, which is fragrant and especially beautiful in autumn when its foliage turns a gorgeous gold. The shape of these have interest in winter and eventually the bushes would form a screen of twigs.The American elderberry also grows rapidly, and the flowers and berries can be used by humans for jams and cordials. Birds and butterflies are attracted to all of these. Experts will be present at the sale to help you choose.

The Hyattsville Horticultural Society will postpone its monthly business meeting in May in order to help make flower arrangements to grace the homes on the Hyattsville House Tour on May 20. Please do not miss this opportunity to view the creative ways Hyattsville residents have embellished their historic homes and gardens.