Meet your expert in shrubs and trees. He’s Orion – like the constellation – Taylor.
Orion could hardly be more of a local guy, having grown up in and around College Park, and he always knew he wanted to work outside. Park Ranger sounded good to him, but gardening called in the form of a lawn maintenance companies. Orion began his career with Behnkes in 1987, starting from the ground up, pretty literally, as a laborer.
Since then he’s worked in woodies, perennials, at the Largo growing facility, and then came to the Potomac store in 1998, and then back to Beltsville after the Potomac store was consolidated into Beltsville (June, 2014). Orion is a Certified Professional Horticulturist.
Life in the Country
Orion and his wife have settled into a very rural life up in Sharpsburg, MD – and up is the right word since it’s at a high enough altitude to be a full zone colder. There, she tends the cottage garden out front and in the back Orion tends his pond, rock garden packed with perennials, and kitchen garden. He’s also trying fruit trees, with mixed results (the curse of the our region!).
So what shrubs does this woodies manager like best and grow in his own garden? Small conifers – like Hinoki cypress, and a few yews and Daphnes for still more evergreen interest. But come spring, his garden gets colorful with the flowers of his many flowering shrubs – roses, spireas, hydrangeas, crape myrtles – all the great favorites of Maryland gardeners.
Orion’s an avid birdwatcher, and attracting them to the garden is a top priority. To that end, he’s included a bird bath and plenty of feed-birding plants, too. He’s proud to tell you that his garden has been certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a wildlife habitat – kudos!
Life beyond Gardening
Sure, Behnkes employees garden in their off hours, but what else? In Orion’s case, another passion is American history. And not just by reading about it, but reenacting it! He and his wife portray Civil War-era civilians at local events like the Sharpsburg Heritage Festival. And next up, they’re going Colonial, so we’ll soon be seeing Orion sporting a tri-cornered hat. (Photos coming soon!)
Other fun activities include fishing and camping – all outdoor stuff. And working on their 1780s house.
But back to work. Asked what special requests Orion is hearing from his customers, there’s no hesitation before he answers “Deer-resistant plants!” (Thus, the photo above.) Plus, he gets lots of requests for native trees, thanks to a growing interest in them generally and Maryland’s help in buying trees – as long as they’re natives.