30 years ago I asked my grandfather, Albert Behnke, if he would give me a Pin Oak tree as a housewarming gift. It was the middle of August, and we had just finished building our new home. There I was, with my 3 year old son, pregnant a second time, and wanting a tree. And what does he do? Comes with 7 trees, a few rhododendrons and a plan.
Soon we were placing the trees all around my new home and I was getting detailed instructions on watering. “Stephy,” he would say, “I want you to stand there for at least 5 minutes per tree when watering.” What! Really? Was he nuts? I had a three year old and a growing wholesale greenhouse business in my back yard. When was I going to find the time? But I managed to keep all seven trees alive.
I heard once that the best time to plant a tree was 25 years ago and the second best time is today! As you can see, that is so true.
He brought me 2 beautiful ‘Crimson King’ Norway Maples, which were very popular at the time; 1 White Oak; 1 Red Oak; 1 Willow Oak;1 Weeping Cherry Tree; 5 different colors of rhododendrons; and the 1 Pin Oak I had actually asked for. Water we did, and our trees grew to give us shade, and of course a home for a family of squirrels that each year would build nests.
I found these two old photos that my grandmother must have taken when they brought the trees. Gosh, I just noticed how dirty my shirt was in that photo. I must have been working hard! My Aunt, Ele Behnke just brought me three large boxes of photos and records from my grandparents.
I spent most of Sunday night looking through them, pulling out things I wanted to keep and trying to decide what to do with the amazing history that my grandmother, Rose Behnke, kept. Scrapbooks filled with articles about the nursery, ‘letters to the editor’ when she felt strongly about this or that… Even letters in German to my great-grandfather back in Kellinghusen, Germany when they imported special roses from him to America. But those are stories for another time.
Posted by: Stephanie Fleming, Vice President, Behnke Nurseries