tinuously producing American Wonder lemons since 1900, its fruit
can weigh up to 5 pounds each, and they dangle like giant ornaments
from the gnarled branches. Cuttings are for sale, while individual lemons can be purchased during the December holiday season, when the
crop is most prolific.
Cultivating below ground under a glass roof was a popular way to
conserve energy in 1918 when The Herb or Pit House was constructed.
The subterranean structure filled with herbs continues to perform its
task nearly a century later.
In the circa 1920 Longhouse, a determined octogenarian ficus
snakes along a wall through the retail area and up two flights of
stairs, where tendrils fan across the ceiling in leafy green circles.
Colorful passionflowers, guavas, cinnamon plants, and cacao
line the shelves of The Potting House, which dates to the late
1920s. The Big House, rescued from another grower and reassembled at Logee’s after the 1938 Great New England Hurricane, shelters a 67-year-old persimmon tree, a 76-year-old
jasmine, and a 107-year-old kumquat tree with six varieties of
grafted citrus waiting to be picked.
During the Great Depression, three of William and Ida
Logee’s children sold handmade bouquets door-to-door in
wealthy neighborhoods. The then-grown children continued
to run the floral enterprise while William focused on his burgeoning plant collection. Son Ernest developed prize-winning
hybridized begonias, and he and his sister Joy, founding members of the American Begonia Society, introduced countless begonias to the market. After Ernest’s death in 1950, Joy and her husband,
Ernest Martin, a fellow horticulturist, ran Logee’s for the next two
decades. In the 1960s, they eliminated the fresh-flower concept to
concentrate on plants and their mail-order audience.
After Ernest died in 1971, Joy continued to run the nursery with
their 21-year-old son, Byron. “This was my chance to make it easier
for customers to shop,” Byron recalls with a smile. “I revved up a chain
saw to tame many of the unruly ‘elders’ blocking the narrow aisles.”
Eight years later, when Joy made him head of the company, he undertook an important improvement: As the energy crisis loomed, he and
his physicist brother, Geoffrey, hand-built a 1,200-square-foot passive solar greenhouse to save on fuel.
Byron continues to oversee the legendary operation with his ex-
wife and business partner, Laurelynn Martin. “I was an athlete who
didn’t realize the joy, stress-reducing, or thought-expanding benefits
of gardening before I became part of Logee’s,” says Laurelynn. “It has
changed my life, and it brings me pleasure to share my insights with
others venturing into the world of plants.”
Today, the company boasts a 19,000-square-foot energy-effi-
cient greenhouse with an internal shipping department, a research
laboratory, and two propagation centers under one roof. “I’m a plant
geek,” says Byron. “Sometimes seeing a flower or tasting something
for the first time allows us to embrace our connection to nature. This
new space gives me room to experiment and introduce new finds, like
uncommon fruiting tropicals, to our consumers. In some small way, I
hope I can spark someone to touch into their own humanity.”
Logee’s Plants for Home & Garden 141 North St., Danielson, C T, 860-774-
logees.com, will host its quasquicentennial festival, Celebrating Fruiting,
Rare and Tropical Plants, on June 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be
greenhouse tours, plants priced at $18.92 in honor of the year the business
began, music, crafts, local food vendors, classes, and labyrinth walks.
plant varieties include: 1. Heliconia
Red Christmas; 2. Medinilla miniata,
Red Medinilla; 3. Hibiscus The Path; 4.
Costa Rican Skullcap; 5. Polka Dot
begonia; 6. Anthurium hybrid.
grower catherine bazinet carries a
tray of bougainvillea (below) in The