Plants For Tough Spaces

YuccaYucca – Nearly indestructible, these hardy evergreen Agave cousins are great for many uses in the garden. Plus, most varieties of our Yucca stock are selections from our locally native species. Give them sun and good drainage and they’ll withstand drought, heat, cold, deer and whatever “benign neglect” you can throw at them. I’ve had one living happily in a container with other evergreens for several years now – it gets baked on the hot deck, nearly frozen solid in winter, and has regrown beautifully after a maniacal squirrel chewed off its leaves this past winter.

LeucothoeLeucothoe – No informal shade garden should be without these graceful evergreens. Related to Andromeda and Azaleas, they’re happiest in moist, shady sites. Deer do not like them, and you’ll get white flowers in spring and, in several varieties, colorful foliage on new growth. They’re low-growing enough to plant in front of other tough shade denizens – Nandina, Mahonia, Osmanthus, etc. – and mine have been prospering with no care, marauding deer and general neglect for over a decade.


HackberryHackberry – With such a lovely common name, it’s no wonder more people don’t know about this nice native tree. With berries for the birds, interesting corky bark and good drought tolerance, they’re great suburban and city trees due to their adaptability to poor soil and tolerance for pollution.

Best of all, they’re host plants for several of our local butterflies – namely the appropriately-named Hackberry Emperor and the comical Snout.

juniperJuniper – Tried and true, junipers are great evergreens for a variety of uses. Mid-size shrubby forms can be used as foundation plants or hedges; low-growers make excellent groundcovers; upright types are best as accents and taller screens. Deer rarely bother them, the berries can draw birds, they’re drought-tolerant and they lend themselves well to topiary and bonsai. There are plenty of underused varieties like the various golden-needled creepers, the beautiful blue-silver shrubs, and the upright sculptural, windswept-look forms.


By Miri Talabac, Behnke’s Woody Plant Buyer

Summer Memories

August 1943 - our lily pond - rose areys - sunday morning

I was going through some of the thousands of photos that my grandmother, Rose Behnke, took, and found this one of my mother, Sonja Behnke Festerling, and her brother, Roland Behnke. This brought back a forgotten memory of the cement pool that was on the property. My mother remembers it fondly. It was a place they could put their feet in and cool off.

My grandather, Albert Behnke, used to raise goldfish in this pond, along with water lilies, for sale at the garden center. Mom said she used to love seeing the beautiful blooms and they loved to watch the frogs.

Times change, and this particular pond is gone, but the desire for beautiful gardens that include water features never really does. It can be as simple as a barrel with one or two plants to a garden pond complete with waterfalls and more.

Posted by: Stephanie Fleming


A few years ago, Behnke’s president, Alfred Millard, and the Emmanuel United Methodist Church came up with the idea of a community garden to help with their Food Bank. They do a monthly food distribution at EUMC church in Beltsville. They add the fresh produce to the canned, dried and frozen goods that they hand out.

This year, Eddy Ruano, after a long cold wet Spring, did the planting for the church and has been taking care of it. Now that the crops are starting to produce, the church volunteers will be out to harvest the radishes and zucchinis this week. Eddy told me that they also have a fine crop of mixed varieties of tomatoes and peppers along with onions.

Posted By: Stephanie Fleming

Join us in Welcoming Back To Beltsville

During the past month we have had the difficult task of saying good-bye to our Potomac Garden Center location and moving most of the inventory back to Beltsville. We are pleased to announce that 5 of the wonderful Potomac staff will also be coming back home to Beltsville.

Bill Mann, Constance Cleaveland, Orion Taylor, Terri Poindexter and Christopher Lewis will all be working in Beltsville. Terri and Constance have already started and the others will follow shortly. Right now they are working hard in Potomac to get that property cleaned and packed up! 16 years worth of stuff needed to be sorted.

I hope that if you used to shop at our Potomac Garden Center you can find time to make the short drive (not during rush hour) to Beltsville to say hello and discover everything that our Beltsville Garden Center has to offer! Plus, see some of the familiar faces your knew in Potomac.

Yes, we will all miss Potomac, but we are very excited to welcome home these folks! All but Christopher have worked at our Beltsville location before so I know that our Beltsville family will be excited to see them back! I also would like to say one more time, thank you Potomac for 16 wonderful years!

While no one really likes change, it can be a good thing if you keep a positive attitude. I am very excited about all the great things that will be happening in Beltsville as we focus on doing what we do best… being the best darn Garden Center around!

Posted By: Stephanie Fleming

Life Is A Journey ~ Enjoy Every Moment!


I am always amazed at all the wonderful places we are so blessed to be able to drive to in our area. This past Monday, my husband, some friends of ours and I loaded up and off we went on an overnight adventure. First up, Pottsville, PA?

Uh, what? Where you ask? Just a few hours away, we were able to tour the site of America’s Oldest Brewery. Yuengling Brewery! We got to see and walk through the hand-dug fermentation caves that were used for storage before refrigeration. My favorite part was seeing the beautiful stained glass ceiling where they did the brewing. Once we finished the FREE 1 1/2 hour tour, we got to try some of their different beers, which was a big joke with my friends and my husband since I do not drink. I did try some though.

After a fantastic lunch at the locally famous Maroons (home of the 1925 NFL Championship controversy with the Pottsville Maroons), we were back on the road again to Lancaster, PA.; another place that for some reason I have never been to. I have been through it, past it and by it, but never got to actually stop and shop! I think the reason they have so many shops in the nearby areas such as Bird-in-Hand is so that you can walk off all the delicious meals you get to eat.

While driving around the back roads and looking at the beautiful Amish farms I noticed that the gardens there were spotless. At farm after farm you would see splashes of color all around and the most well-maintained vegetable gardens you will ever find. We ended up spending the night at a nice place that said we would have a farm view. which we did. I had to laugh however, because right across the street was a well-known nursery wholesaler, Greenleaf. I just can’t get away from it! Send us photos of your vacations at #behnkes!

Posted by: Stephanie Fleming

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