Plant Advice Needed

I delurked in another reply. I have a large vegetable garden consisting of 5 raised beds and a small greenhouse. We are in the process of adding 3 smaller raised vegetable and 1 raised flower bed. I'm in Zone 6A Ontario. I have a couple of problem areas.
1) The front flower beds need a total make-over. They face west so get mostly afternoon and evening sun. Until last year I planted a mish mash of whatever flowers I grew from seed. We want something a little lower maintenance than flowers although I would still like a small edging of flowers for colour. Any suggestions.
2) We need a fast growing bush type to create privacy on the south side. The problem is there is a huge likely over a hundred years old maple tree that sucks all the nutrients out of the ground. Suggestions?
TIA
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Garden Gnome
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look into English Laurel or other laurel varieties. Another option is Thuja. another evergreen plant which is tall and columnar in shape.
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