Behn's Best for Landis

By Louise Polli

You are walk­ing through the aisles of plants and shrubs at the spring plant sale. Col­or sur­rounds you: emerg­ing pas­tel buds, bright green foliage, and the dis­tinc­tive blue pots of Behn’s Best perennials.

Joe Behn has been bring­ing a truck full of hardy, eye-catch­ing peren­ni­al plants to Lan­dis plant sales for the last 20 years, always includ­ing new and dif­fer­ent vari­eties and well-loved sen­ti­men­tal favorites. They are hardy to our zone and cli­mate, typ­i­cal­ly deer-resis­tant, and true to the name: Behn’s Best. Asked why he has par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Lan­dis sales for so many years, Joe respond­ed, sim­ply: It’s how I sup­port the Arboretum.”

Joe’s con­nec­tion to the nat­ur­al world began at a young age. His grand­fa­ther was a farmer, as were his par­ents, whose 160 acres in rur­al Malden Bridge includ­ed the site where Behn’s Best Peren­ni­als is locat­ed today. He and his father built the fam­i­ly home. Even­tu­al­ly, Joe’s dream of build­ing and own­ing a nurs­ery became a real­i­ty.

Joe’s edu­ca­tion­al cre­den­tials include degrees in envi­ron­men­tal stud­ies and hor­ti­cul­ture, and a degree in plant sci­ence from Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty. He serves on the Board of Direc­tors for Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Colum­bia and Greene Coun­ties. He has always been hands-on, grow­ing his busi­ness from scratch at a time when peren­ni­als were just start­ing to take off.” Joe recalled that his first cat­a­logue was a one page list­ing, pro­duced on a type­writer. Now Behn’s Best car­ries more than 450 vari­eties of qual­i­ty native and gar­den peren­ni­als, ferns, clema­tis, orna­men­tal grass­es, and ground­cov­ers. His net­work of cus­tomers has spread through­out the Cap­i­tal Dis­trict to the Hud­son Val­ley, the Catskills, the Berk­shires, and into Con­necti­cut.

Despite this expan­sion, Behn’s Best still main­tains the kind of stel­lar cus­tomer ser­vice asso­ci­at­ed with a small busi­ness. Each year, Joe hosts a Cus­tomer Appre­ci­a­tion Open House at his nurs­ery, serv­ing up bar­be­cue and the cama­raderie he eas­i­ly gen­er­ates. Lan­dis vol­un­teers always wel­come the arrival of the Behn’s Best truck dur­ing the week pre­ced­ing the sale. It’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty to get a pre­view of Joe’s lat­est selec­tions, to learn from his tid­bits of botan­i­cal knowl­edge, and enjoy a laugh or two while unload­ing the truck of its col­or­ful car­go, most in their famil­iar blue pots. And speak­ing of pots, Behn’s is best” in yet anoth­er way. When Joe opened his busi­ness some 27 years ago, he estab­lished an on-site recy­cling cen­ter where his whole­sale cus­tomers – the land­scape con­trac­tors, prop­er­ty man­agers and oth­er pro­fes­sion­als he serves day to day – can bring their plas­tic pots, flats, and oth­er non-biodegrad­able sup­plies for either re-use or ship­ment to a recy­cling facil­i­ty. That aspect of the busi­ness con­tin­ues today, anoth­er rea­son we think Behn’s real­ly is the best.

So skip the big box stores, and come to Lan­dis for the real win­ners for your home land­scape. Your only dilem­ma will be which ones to choose. And choice is the hall­mark of the sale. In fact, by shop­ping at the Arbore­tum spring and fall sales, you have access to beau­ti­ful plants usu­al­ly sold whole­sale to the trade only,” includ­ing the best from Joe Behn.

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Spring 2015

Volume 33 , Number 2

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