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Demolition Starts But Memories Remain

Demolition Started This Week

It has been three years since we announced we would be closing Behnke Nurseries for good. Three years of thinking back and wishing at times that we could go back to the hustle and bustle of a beautiful spring day at the garden center. Also, three years of watching Mother Nature take over and the property take on that abandoned appearance no one likes to see.


This week I got word demolition had started and a video of the back of this little house so many of us called “home” coming down. As I said a few months ago, I don’t think I will go and watch. However, I know many of you have, as I have been getting phone calls, emails, and pictures. Thank you so much for sharing. So many memories were created in that house, as with the rest of the property. But we will always have those memories tucked inside of us.

Our Memories Remain

My mom will still share growing up in a little shack with her brothers and no running water. I will never forget playing in the pansy beds across from this house. Or the big loud ceiling fan that ran during hot summer nights outside my bedroom door. I will remember looking out my bedroom window over to the Beltsville Fire Department when the carnival was and seeing the Ferris wheel go round and round.


I will never forget the men that would come from Germany and Holland to work for my grandparents and lived in the basement of this house. Or mom forever straightening the pictures on the walls after the train would go by on US 1. Even the memory of sharing a half bathroom upstairs with my brother, who hated all a teenage girl’s makeup and clutter, so he tossed everything out the upstairs window one day. I will never forget sleigh riding down Wicomico Ave or feeding the ducks in the pond. And I will never forget the people who made Behnke’s the garden center that people still talked about years after we closed.

So Many Children Grew Up In This Home

Just yesterday, Marian Parsley (former annual department buyer/manager), who lived in the house for a number of years, recalled the beautiful mural that Alfred Millard (Behnke’s president) painted on the wall of Bambi, Thumper and gang on the upstairs bedroom wall for his first born. She loved it was there when her daughter was born—just thinking of all the children besides myself that were raised in that house on Behnke Nurseries. What an extraordinary life we led.


The last family that lived there and was there the longest was Larry Bristow’s family. He and his wife raised their two children there for around 24 years. When he showed his children the video, Larry told me that his daughter mentioned that she woke up to a video of her childhood home coming down and ended the day purchasing her first home.


So, my friends, our house came down this week; while I am not sure what will come down next I know I will be sharing more memories of each structure.

When One Door Closes

I do want to remind you that this is a demolition site, and it is not safe for anyone to be on any of the property. The gates are locked, and if you happen to drive by and see them open, please do not go in. I would hate for anyone to get hurt. I will share more photos on our Facebook page and weekly here. And remember, when one door closes (Behnke’s), another door will open. So go out, support your local independent garden centers and help keep their doors open. Love you all, Stephanie

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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