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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - December 02, 2008

From: Wallingford, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Evergreens to replace a screening line of pine trees
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smartyplants, I lost a "screening" line of pines along my back property line to powerline trimmers & a blight. The area is quite damp & the soil full of clay which is now acidic from the grinding of the pines. I want a mixed screen of natives to attract wildlife. I have been researching natives for quite awhile & have planted 2 birch, 3 viburnum, a red maple & a crabapple. I really need ideas for evergreens for screening & winter interest, but also plants for color all year. I'm having the most trouble with the evergreens as my husband doesn't want arbovite & there is the powerline issue. Help! Any ideas?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks you are off to a good start, however, your crab apple may not like the soil acidity.

I've put together a short list of possibilities that you might consider. Four of these are flowering plants, and the rest are conifers.

Inkberry  Ilex glabra (inkberry); this is a mound-shaped shrub growing 6 to 12 feet tall. It produces black berries that persit through winter. May be toxic if ingested.

Great Laurel  Rhododendron maximum (great laurel);  this is an evergreen, thicket forming shrub that grows 4 to 15 feet tall. It has white blossoms and the largest leaves of all the native Rhododendrons.  The plants contain poisonous substances that should not be ingested by humans or animals.

Eastern Teaberry Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry); this is a low, woody ground cover that can grow up to three feet. Deer and smaller animals eat the leaves in winter, and the berries attract birds.

Candleberry Morella pensylvanica (northern bayberry); this is a spreading, much branched shrub, 3-12 feet tall. It attracts birds and butterflies.

Atlantic White Cedar Chamaecyparis thyoides (Atlantic white cedar); this is a conifer with blue-green scale-like leaves on twigs. It can grow 40-75 feet tall in the wild, however there are shorter cultivars available.

Blue Spruce Picea pungens (blue spruce); naturally conical in shape, this conifer can grow up to 100 feet in the wild, but there are shorter cultivars available.

Eastern Red Cedar Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar); this conifer posseses fragrant gray-green to blue-green to light or dark-green scale-like leaves, and can grow 30 - 40 feet tall. There are shorter cultivars available.

Another source of information that is closer to home is your Delaware County Extension Director at the Penn State Cooperative Extension.

To find suppliers for these plants, click this link which will bring up the National Suppliers Directory. Type in your city and stqte in the appropriate box and this will give you a list of plant nurseries in your locale.

 

From the Image Gallery


Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Great laurel
Rhododendron maximum

Eastern teaberry
Gaultheria procumbens

Northern bayberry
Morella pensylvanica

Atlantic white cedar
Chamaecyparis thyoides

Northern bayberry
Morella pensylvanica

Blue spruce
Picea pungens

Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

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