After 36 years in the same home, I finally had a landscape project that was beyond my skill set to accomplish. Gardens evolve over the years, and my wooded quarter acre has suffered loss of trees.
One thing that came out of the closing of Behnke’s was getting to know Vincent. Like many of you, he was a long-time loyal Behnke Nurseries customer, and had been coming to the nursery since he was a young boy. I first met him at one of our Chili Cook-Offs, where he played in a band we had. Boy, they were loud!
When we announced we would be closing the nursery, he was among the first to start asking about purchasing some of the fixtures around the nursery. It seemed like almost every day I would see something else with his name on it.
It got to the point where I would tease him saying: “Are you opening up a garden center?” No, he just wanted bits of the history of my family’s nursery.
After the nursery closed in June of last year, he would show up every so often and walk around, finding more and more treasures that I never remembered. During that time we were selling things like light fixtures, benches and bricks, and he would keep our former operations manager (and website developer) Larry Bristow company. Larry worked on the property till the end of 2019, salvaging things like the copper pipes, meeting with people who were buying the remaining fixtures, and so on.
I think Vince is now at the nursery more than I am. When I see him he tells me this and that and sends me emails to let me know who was at the nursery. He’s made friends with the police officer that lives on the property now. This past year, Vince sent me many photos of his home and yard and what he does with all the odds and ends he has bought from us.
I thought I would share this picture, which he called “Mini Behnke’s,” with you. I see the clock and the florist sign. I know he bought all the directional signs we had, so they must be somewhere. He bought some of the small fans and many of the bricks around the nursery. He loves hearing about nursery history and enjoys looking through some of the old photos when my grandparents started the nursery.
I know Vince retired around the same time we closed the nursery. I think he would have applied for a second job if we had stayed open, at least I hope he would have. His love of plants and Behnke’s would have made him fit right in. He bought one of the old blue Behnke shirts we were selling, and sometimes when he comes to see what is going on, he will have it on.
Thank you, Vince, for caring about the history of the property for showing me your many photos of how you have repurposed things. I know so many of you also bought different fixtures, and I would love to see how they ended up.
Stephanie Fleming: Beyond Behnke’s