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In brutally hot weather, Randy’s cool shade garden hits the spot

With temperatures over 100, it’s a good time to sing the praises of shade gardens, doncha think?  Not only are they cooler; they also need less weeding and watering.  And the garden of Behnkes’ own Randy Best proves that they can be gorgeous, too.

Thanks to Miri Talabac for her photos of Randy’s garden (taken last month), and what she calls some “random facts”, too.

Randy raises Hosta seedlings indoors under lights, and keeps the lights on 24/7.   He divides mature clumps as needed in spring.  Despite all the shade he has, he grows no ferns, for fear that they might harbor foliar nematodes that can infect his hostas.

He amended the soil with lots and lots and lots of LeafGro and terraced the land with stone retaining walls himself.

Yes, he does have snail/slug problems, (what hosta collector doesn’t?) but fortunately, Sluggo works.

He keeps a very watchful eye out for Southern Blight, a fungal disease that can wreak havoc in a short amount of time. The patch of Ajuga he showed us on the tour is now about 75% destroyed now.  Very few fungicides control it, but the Bayer products containing tebuconazole do

And for a touch of color, a bottle tree.

Randy composts the oak leaves that drop long after curbside pickup is finished for the season.

‘Tiger Eyes’ Sumac makes a great focal point.

And notice, he uses no mulch (!!)

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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