Saturday, March 23, 2019

Visit of a Plant-starved Gardener to Logee's

It's been a tough winter for the plants, with little snow cover and a constant cycle of rain and hard freezes.  Small bulbs and plants were heaved out of the ground and had to be reburied.  On a positive note, my Giant Snowdrops were up and blooming early in January.

Galanthus elwesii, aka Giant Snowdrop
February continued with lots of cold but not much snow.  March rallied with a couple good snowstorms before winter finally started to loosen its grip.  Last week it actually (dare I say it?) started feeling a bit like spring.  (I remain a cynic, though, as it has been known to snow in April.)

common snowdrops in the garden
So how do we northern gardeners survive during the long winter?  Let's see... we spend the first couple of months giving our neglected and abused houseplants some much needed love.  After we put all of our houseplants into shock, we obsessively peruse seed catalogs.  We then try to convince ourselves that this year we really are going to plant all those seeds we order...

another winter project - propagation of Christmas cactus
At some point, however, it is time for a desperate gardener to visit a nursery to get a plant fix!  We are lucky to have a couple nurseries with greenhouses in the surrounding area, but last month we took a day trip to visit the real jackpot - Logee's Greenhouses.

Mr. Red House took me to Logee's as a late Valentine's Day excursion.  He really knows the way to a gardener's heart!  Logee's has not just one but SIX greenhouses filled to the brim with botanical treasures.

Clockwise from top left:  narrow aisles run through the packed greenhouses, unlabelled camellia, rows of Euphorbia obesa and Euphorbia suzannae for sale, Callandra surinamiensis aka Powder Puff plant
Logee's is a mail order and retail shop in Danielson, Connecticut, that specializes in container-grown tropical plants, and it has an interesting history.  It was started in 1892 by William Logee.  One of its most famous plants is the Ponderosa Lemon Tree that was brought to Logees from Philadelphia in 1900 via train then horse and buggy.  It was planted in the ground in Logee's original greenhouse and is still there, alive and thriving, and thousands of cuttings have been taken from it for new plants.  It is also called the American Wonder Lemon, as its lemons can get as large as 5 pounds.

lemon from the Ponderosa Lemon Tree
William Logee's children became involved in running the nursery.  His son Ernest hybridized begonias for the nursery and was one of the founders of the American Begonia Society.  Sadly he passed away at a young age from a fall out of a tree while pruning.

Top: Calathea lancifolia 'Rattlesnake'  Center: Pavonia multiflora, unlabeled Hibiscus flower, Rhaphidophora cryptantha (aka Shingle Plant)  Bottom: Acalypha hispida (aka Chenille Plant), Begonia maculata variegata
William Logee's daughter Joy met her husband at Ernest's funeral, as he was a fellow horticulturalist and Begonia Society member.  They became owners of the nursery after William's death in 1952.  Joy focused on scented geraniums and herbs, while also continuing her brother's legacy of growing begonias.

Joy and her husband had two sons.  One, Geoffrey, became a physicist and professor.  His first wife was now well-known garden author Tovah Martin.  Their other son Byron stayed with Logee's, and he and his first wife now run the still family-owned and operated greenhouses.

profusion of blooms from an enormous Australian Sarsparilla vine
The nursery was a delightful place to visit after some long winter months.

So is it possible for a plant-starved gardener to visit such a greenhouse and not come home with a plant or two (...or seven or eight)?

my new Begonia 'Sophie Cecile'
I think not.
Happy gardening!

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