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Pansies, The Old Fashioned Way

One of the first plants to arrive at our garden center each year are pansies. Today I heard we got some this week! This made me think of the pansy beds we had way back when I was growing up on the nursery. They were located right across from our home (the little brick house on the property), where our perennial department is now located.  It was always fun watching the men prepare the pansy beds. This was very serious work. No fooling around! My Uncle Albert took this video of the process back in 1962.

Starring in it is Helmut Jaehnigen as a young man.  You will see him tilling up the beds with the “killer tiller,” as he referred to it. Notice his “safety shoes” and those short shorts! This video shows all the steps that were taken to grow our beautiful pansies. You will see them growing and then finally get counted (50 seedlings in a box) for sale. What you don’t see is my grandfather hand mixing the seeds for custom mixes of varieties. You also don’t see how the sand covering the beds had to be sifted many times to be super fine. It sure was hard work.  I hope you enjoy this little throw back in time as much as we have.

by Stephanie Fleming, Behnke’s Vice President

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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