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Who Lived Here?

picture burtonsville house

My mother, Sonja Behnke Festerling, loved to paint. She would always be doodling and sketching. Mom was the one that created the famous “Behnke B” logo back when she was 17 years old.

I love this charcoal sketch she did for my grandparents Albert & Rose Behnke. They loved it too, and it hung in their living room until I brought it home after they both passed away. This was a sketch of their new home in Burtonsville, right off of 198 and McKnew Road. The house and fence are still there; however the beautiful gardens tended by my grandfather are gone.

For me, looking at this picture, I see the fence where my brother or cousins and I would play badminton. I see some of the hundreds of rhododendrons: I used to have to help remove the old, spent blooms. I see the beautiful green lawn that my grandfather would never let me mow because it had to be done just right. Up by the house on the right was the large rock garden that was such a pain to weed. I see the stone on the house and the stone walls that I used to walk on.

The window on the left was their office. Inside that window was a ledge that his elephant collection sat on, which I did get to dust. And then I see the garden path that I was to walk down on my wedding day. I see the chairs set up for our rehearsal on the lawn and remember walking past the beautiful Japanese Split-leaf Maple with my grandfather, who was to give me away.

stephanie wedding rehersal
burtonsville yard

I always smile when I stop and really look at this picture that my mother drew so quickly one day. Sadly, it rained cats and dogs on my wedding day. We had to move to the church next door for the ceremony, but in my heart, I really got married the day before in my grandparent’s garden.

Do you have a picture that can bring back memories?

Stephanie Fleming; Beyond Behnke’s

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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