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We Love Chris Upton’s Blog “1003 Gardens”

One of the oldest and best loved garden blogs in the D.C. area is written by an old friend of Behnkes – Chris Upton, currently the horticulturist for the Asia Collection at the National Arboretum.  He named it 1003 Gardens because that’s about how many gardens he’s had in his lifetime, according to the blog’s tagline: “One in Adelphi, Maryland, one in Wildwood, Florida, one at the US National Arboretum with a grandfatherly interest in many more around the DC area (unless noted, pictures are taken the day of post).”  Those gardens that Chris just feels grandfatherly toward include dozens he created as a landscape designer for Behnkes.

Chris seems to always have his camera at the ready when he’s on the job, and 1003 Gardens is followed closely by National Arboretum staff and fans as the best, most up-to-date report on what’s happening there.  We hear tell the Arboretum may soon have its own official blog, but we all know how government agencies work and just maybe, this privately owned blog with no official status is actually a better plan.   One can only imagine the process of getting single blog stories approved within a federal bureaucracy – yikes!

Chris started his blog in March of 2008 and since then has posted 1,523 different blog stories!  And of course we notice every single mention of Behnkes, like this recent one about coming here for some “flash and splash”.

Chris and Karen Upton judging pumpkin bread entries at Behnkes.

A little history

Asked how he got into gardening, Chris replies, “From the wrong direction,” by which he means by attending a wildlife camp, collecting rocks, and other nature-loving activities.  Why, that seems like a terrific direction from which to approach gardening!

Chris credits his long association with Behnkes with his whole career:  “If it weren’t for Behnkes I wouldn’t be in horticulture.”  Nice to hear!  He and his wife Karen, who worked at Behnkes for 35 years, including as manager of our Beltsville store, remain close friends.



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.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Miss our trips to the Philadelphia Flower Show!
    We found the cool varieties of heaths and Heather!
    Mary Myers ❤️

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