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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