We’ve moved this blog story to our website so more readers can find it. Just click here!
Ready for some garden eye candy of the non-plant variety? Then take a gander at these gates, arbors, gazebos, chairs, fences and more – all gorgeous woodworking by Walpole Woodmakers, the fabulous craftspeople whose products we’re making available at both Behnkes locations.
Save! If you buy at Behnkes, there’s no charge for shipping. Even if you call Walpole’s directly, mention Behnkes and they’ll ship your purchase FREE to one of our locations.
About their Products
Since 1933, Walpole Woodworkers have carried on the great tradition of American woodworkers, a tradition let’s all hope we never lose to out-sourcing. They’re located throughout the Eastern U.S.
Two of the unique features they offer are rustic-style fencing, and the new, improved staining process they pioneered. This process performs better than staining done after installation, and avoids the mess of staining in place, in customers’ gardens. Walpole also designed and manufactures LifeGuardTM posts to help increase the longevity of its fence. We’re suckers for people who take old-fashioned pride in their work.
Another innovation by Walpole is the use of CAD systems to produce detailed drawings so that customers can see exactly how their project will look. If you’ve never seen CAD – the design program used by architects and landscape architects everywhere – it looks incredibly real.
Originally, Walpole’s wood of choice was Northern White Cedar, a hardy limber cut at its mills at Chester and Detroit, Maine. Now they offer a choice of styles in mahogany, cherry, teak, metal and the highly acclaimed wood alternative known as cellular PVC. It’s a long-lasting, low-maintenance material with the look and feel of natural wood, yet it won’t rot, split, or warp. Walpole happens to be the largest fabricator of modern cellular PVC in the country.
We’re happy to offer this feature to our customers – a free fencing consultation on your property by a Walpole designer, who’ll give design suggestions and take the necessary measurements.
Water Conservation in the Landscape is a new article on the Behnkes website, written by one of our landscaping professionals – check it out.
Here’s an update on the Vermont Avenue Gardens in downtown D.C., which is produced and maintained by a very civic-minded group that includes local businesses and politicians and a bunch of neighbors. One of those neighbors is Behnkes own Jeffrey Willis, director of our Landscaping Division, w ho serves as Coordinator of the Vermont Avenue Gardens. He summed up the event as follows:
We were blessed with beautiful spring weather & enthusiastic volunteers, who spend several hours tending to the 1/4 mile of street gardens here. Thanks to all who contributed!
Approximately 50 good folks hit the street around 9am last Saturday, after stoking up on breakfast from . Nellie’s Sports Bar & a tour of the new African American Civil War Museum, our sponsor.
Safety cones were kindly delivered by Fort Myers Construction. Mulch & tools were generously delivered by the U.S. Park Service & staged at Grimke’s DC Fire & Rescue parking lot & King Gas. Behnke Nurseries & Landscaping, my employer, provided discounted & free plants & materials & loaned equipment. Drinks were brought by the 9:30 Club. Trash was promptly picked up by DC Solid Waste. Most volunteers carried on to about 1pm, when we wrapped up with complimentary ala cart fare & brews at m Duffy’s Irish Pub. Special thanks to Andy Duffy for a great lunch.
Special thanks also to Urbanland and Urban Realtors, neighborhood businesses who again made major financial contributions to fund the event.
The result is 4 blocks (including 9 1/2 Street) of blooming, manicured gardens that will only look better in the coming weeks as other plants add their colors. Drop by to enjoy the show!
For more pictures & commentary on the event, see the story on Borderstan. And thanks to all who supported & participated!
By Larry Hurley, Perennial Plant Buyer
I’m not sure if you have noticed, but it’s been a hot summer. (As a horticulturist, I am always planting; just now I planted my tongue firmly in my cheek.) Last year, July was cooler and wetter than normal, this year just the opposite. Long hot spells with few breaks in temperatures, and the occasional severe thunderstorm to keep it interesting.
Right now, I am typing on battery power on my laptop, with candles for illumination. I feel like Young Abraham Lincoln, practicing arithmetic by the fireplace, using chalk to write on the back of my shovel. [Note to self after power restored days later: in future, save battery for other endeavors.] I’d like to encourage you to water your plants from time to time. Remember: unlike you with your pint bottle of water on your desk, your plants can’t walk over to the water cooler for a refill. Just as you wouldn’t leave a dog in a hot car, our plants depend upon us to help us through hot summer weather.
The street trees in town are often forgotten. These are the unlucky trees planted in what is called the “Hell Strip,” the area between sidewalk and curb. Called that because it gets hotter and drier faster than other areas due to the heat radiating from street and sidewalk. Also, since the soil area is small, there isn’t a lot of room for water to soak in when it does rain. It’s also often salty, from road salt and pet urine. (Salty soil is a problem for plant roots, they don’t work as well as they do in “normal” soil. It’s the reason that you shouldn’t fertilize a plant in stress; it may make things worse.)
People tend to think of those street trees as the city’s responsibility; as a result, street trees tend to be short-lived. Give them a break and run the hose on the soil out there for awhile, or at least take out a couple of watering cans. Plants vary in their ability to survive periods of drought. Needle-bearing evergreens, such as pines and junipers, tend to be drought tolerant once established (that is; in the ground for a couple of years). Newly-planted plants need to be checked frequently in hot weather because they have a limited root system, initially confined just to the potting soil that they came with. Remember to soak them well, then let them dry out for a couple of days to encourage the roots to grow out into the surrounding soil in search of water.
Especially in the western US, Xeriscaping is becoming the norm; that is, landscaping with plants that tolerate or even thrive in dry conditions. (A Xeric environment is a dry environment. Xeriscaping means landscaping with drought tolerant plants.) Areas with large populations and little water are realizing that they don’t have the resources to maintain lush lawns and temperate plants. Depending on the locale, people are switching from lawns to desert plants, or Mediterranean climate plants. The latter do well in dry and often hot summers, and cool winters when they get the bulk of their limited rainfall. These also tend to be areas with poor, well-drained, rocky soils. Lavender and rosemary are Mediterranean climate plants.
What about Xeriscaping in our area? We have a problem with poor-draining clay soils, wet winters and summers that are often wet and usually humid. Mediterranean plants such as lavender often die here during the winter from root or crown rot, and in the summer, they are prone to foliar diseases from the high humidity. You can help combat these problems by planting where there is good air circulation, and in soil that drains well. This may mean on a slope or in a raised bed. Mulching these plants with gravel instead of bark helps too; it keeps the stems drier and reduces rot. That said, there are lots of plants that don’t require a lot of supplemental water in the summer, and can be used to replace areas of lawn.
Here is a link to an online brochure from the Home and Garden Information Center of the University of Maryland Extension (HGIC), entitled: “Xeriscaping and Conserving Water in the Landscape;”
The plant list needs some updating. I would not recommend Green Ash due to the recent presence of the Emerald Ash Borer in Maryland; and Moneywort, Lysimachia nummularia, is an invasive species. But it’s a good place to start.
Another helpful brochure from HGIC, “Native Plants of Maryland: What, When and Where” lists a number of plants that are frequently available at our garden center (best availability in the spring) and their conditions, including a good list of those which tolerate dry soil when established.
Google plants on the list to learn more about them and see if you are interested in them. You can email us at email@example.com for our opinions and availability on any item on these lists. We live for stuff like that. For a nice little article on the origin of the term “xeric”.