Behnke's vs Lowe's

lynnt(Z7 MD)May 25, 2008

I visited Kim Kaplan's garden Friday -- very nice, by the way! -- and saw that she had just planted several of the new heuchera "Midnight Rose" -- maroon with pink splashes. She told me she had gotten them at Lowe's. This was a surprise to me, since Behne's introduced this cultivar just a couple years ago. And she said they were less than $12. I know my local Lowe's doesn't carry their premium plants, living in a low-rent district as I do, but I poked my nose in anyway before driving up to Laurel, where the market warrants the good stuff. The low-rent local store had nice pots of relatively recent cultivars like Silver Scrolls and Purple Ruffles for $5 a pot, as well as nicely grown Jewels of Opar and other good things for less than $2. They must have been fresh off the truck as they were not dried out (yet). And I did get the last Midnight Rose at Laurel. With 10% off for being military (good over the Mem Day weekend -- show any form of military ID, and get 10% off. Pity the Garden Dept crew didn't know about it. Big Box is still Big Box.)

But when you combine this abundance with the lovely things Bell Nursery is selling cheap by consignment at Home Despot -- and they get around the big box neglect syndrome by sending their own staff out to care for the racked plants -- I fear for the specialty nurseries. A garden club I belong to had a booth this year at the big Green Springs sale, and we noted that attendance was way down -- probably half previous years. We conjectured that it might have been due to the economic downturn, housing drop or gas price increase, but as I visit the Big Boxes I think it is also because you can readily get cool plants for cheap there -- and I don't know how they can afford some of the pricing.

That said, Merrifield and Meadows Farms were both hopping yesterday. And Merrifield had one of the cool new Vitex cultivars I was looking for, where Behnke's didn't (they just had a generic) and Meadows Farms didn't know what a Vitex is.



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I went to Thanksgiving Farms on Friday :) Nothing compares. I had picked up a Tiger Eye Sumac at Lowe's earlier in the week for $34. Spent two hours and didn't even get far enough at TGF to see if they had them. Not to worry, my cart was full, and I wasn't looking for anything common. They have broader stock than Behnke's, better prices and a beautiful spot with wonderful selection of tenders, succulents, agave.... everything except Melianthus Major, which I had to mail order a few weeks ago. With Lowes & HD, you can find bargains, but you have to be there at the right time to get the good stuff. They'll never replace the real nurseries that have deep and broad selections, but they're definitely the place to go for disposable annuals, basic shrubs, and sometimes a pleasant surprise.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 9:23PM
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avoirgold(z7 MD)

I only have one comment...

Be VERY careful buying hostas at the "big box" stores like Lowes and Home Depot. I was at my Lowes in Columbia and their hostas looked like they had HVX (Hosta Virus X). You don't want this in your garden. I just don't want anyone to get burned.


Here is a link that might be useful: Info on Hosta Virus X

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 5:19PM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

'Midnight Rose' is not a Behnke introduction; it was released by Terra Nova Nurseries, a wholesaler known especially for their Heuchera hybrids. They supply plants to many retailers.

I almost never buy plants at the big box stores--I'll sometimes pick up supplies (soil, tools, etc.) but I buy pretty much all my plants from the local nurseries and garden centers, with a few of my more unusual plants coming from mail-order sources. I used to go to the Green Spring sale every spring, and Merrifield was one of my favorite nurseries, but since the Marshall-Newman amendment I rarely venture into Virginia anymore and never shop there if I can help it. I would rather spend my hard-earned dollars in DC or Maryland.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 10:19AM
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lynnt(Z7 MD)

I hear you about the political slant in VA, but the club I was working for at Green Springs this year is Four Seasons, the area gay/lesbian/gay friendly garden club -- and even with a reduces attendee count it would have been hard to raise the kind of funds we did at any venue I know of in MD.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 9:48AM
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My daughter graduated from college this year on the same weekend as the Green Springs sale. It was a toss-up as to which I would attend. Graduation won out. :) I'm sad to have missed that sale this year.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 12:09PM
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lynnt(Z7 MD)

I found myself skipping several other event sales this year -- Londontown, even Wm Paca House -- as my beds are getting fuller and I have been able to find sufficient unusual new things to keep me happy between the many swaps, GS, and local stores. FSGC is trying to decide whether or not to have a booth at the Fall GS sale in September.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 1:07PM
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I was at Kim's on Sunday. 'Midnight Rose' is definitely goregous. I'm amazed at what she can grow in partial shade.

I end up shopping everywhere for what I need. Groundcovers, since I need so many plants, I tend to get on-line, as cheap as possible. Home Depot had Mondo Grass and Stonecrop this year for $1.99 a pot. I got trays of them.

Benkhe's has a nice section of "Bay Safe" perennials that are local cultivars. I've bought a few and all have been good investments. The bigger the plant, the more inclined I am to purchase at Benkhe's than HD or Lowes.

We also enjoy taking a day and travelling around to area nurseries for unusual items. We've been to Alden Farms in Bealsville and Susannah Farm Nursery in Boyds.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 1:38PM
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Actually, 'Midnight Rose' was spotted in the field as a sport of 'Obsidian' by Larry Hurley of Behnke Nurseries. So, Behnke's does deserve to get just a little credit. Terra Nova purchased the patent, propagates and markets them.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 2:43PM
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I bought my 'Midnight Rose' a couple of years ago at Lowe's. I also bought Brunnera 'Jack Frost' and 'Looking Glass' there at the same time. I paid about $11 for each (very nice clumps in 1 Gallon pots). I remember that Brunneras - same size pots - were about $30 at Behnke's at the same time. Do your math...
I absolutely agree with avoirgold about Hostas. I've seen infected Hostas in both HD and Lowe's many times.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 4:28PM
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Some people actually BUY hostas?! ;) They must not be part of this board!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2010 at 11:52AM
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pippi21(Z7 Silver Spring, Md.)

There is no comparison between Behnke's and Lowe's. You get what you pay for at Lowe's. Behnke's has always been a top quality nursery. Although Mr. Behnke is now deceased, he demanded that for his nursery. I shop at Home Depot because they are cheaper and only 1 mile from our house..real convenient, but you have to be there on the days the trucks bring in new stock from Bell Nurseries. I have not bought very much from HD this year because I wintersowed a lot of my plants, but the few times I've been there this Spring and Summer, I noticed the quality is not there and there are less Bell Nursery staff on hand to help you and answer questions. There were two Bell Employees that were really knowledgable; one gal was terminated last year and the man, I haven't seen him but maybe once this summer. Maybe he is at a different location. I do not go to Lowe's for plants, as they have never taken care of their plants at their Gaithersburg location, which is closest to me but still about 13 plus miles away. Is Kimba giving garden tours of her gardens?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 6:49PM
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