Miss Floribunda - April 2008

Dear Miss Floribunda,

I just moved to Hyattsville and am planning a native garden.  What native plants have worked well in this area? Also, I've noticed that a couple of neighbors have signs designating their yards as wildlife sacturaries.  How does this work?
A Neighbor Who Wants To Go Native

Dear Neighbor,

Let's answer your question about the signs first. These yard signsare from the National Wildlife Federation and indicate that your garden is a Certified Wildlife Habitat. It costs $15 to apply for certification, plus  $25 for the attractive recycled aluminum signs. For complete information you can telephone NWF at 800-822-9919; check their web site: http://nwf.org/backyard/; or come to the next HHS meeting at 10 AM on April 19, at the Municipal Center. One of our members is authorized by the NWF to certify yards.  The basic requirements are to provide food, water and a habitat--this can be as simple as growing sunflowers, filling a birdbath, providing birdhouses, shrubs, and trees for nesting.

This brings us to your inquiry concerning appropriate native plants. Well, I called my Aunt Sioux and she was delighted to help. First she went on and on about the advantages they have because of their modest water needs,  their resistance to pests, their ease of care, their benefits to the environment and of course their beauty. She recommends that to start you try black-eyed susans, our state flower, common wood violets , blue wood asters, wild bergamot,  Virginia bluebells and
moss phlox. The redbud is a wonderful small tree to begin with, graceful yet tough as shoe leather--and you can get trees that bloom in white, rose, or knock-your-eye-out magenta.  Among more challenging plants are jacks in the pulpit, but Sioux just loves them and rescued several from the site of the local Starbucks. They thrive under her touch and she thinks they are worth your while. For an exhaustive list I would suggest you check the web site of the Maryland Native Plant Society: http:// www.mdflora.org/publications/natives2plant_lists.html.

There are several big sales coming up where you can find native plants as well as many others.  On April 26 the National Arboretum, which is located not far from Hyattsville north on Kenilworth Avenue, will have its fabulous annual sale. That same Saturday, and Sunday as well, the Franciscan Monastery Garden Guild will have its annual sale at the Franciscan Monastery at 14th & Quincy NE. The FMGG sale presents an enormous selection of herbs, as well as many shrubs, small trees, perennials and rose bushes. The Monastery is located nearby, just off Queens Manor Road turned Michigan Avenue in  Washington.

Also, if you'd  like an organic compost watch the Hyattsville listserve for an uncoming Hyattsville Horticultural Society sale of
Chesapeake Green at Community Forklift. Chesapeake Green comes from the Bay and does not harm the Bay when it returns to it in groundwater.
This brings me to one last announcement.  The Mayor and Council of the City of Hyattsville, recognizing the many advantages to native plants, have been in the process of rewriting our ordinance that covers lawns and weeds.  There should be a final vote April 7 that would make wildflower gardens, vegetable gardens, native plant gardens, rain gardens and wildlife habitats acceptable as lawn substitutes. The meeting will take place at 8 PM at the Municipal
Center and the public is welcome.