Field Trip: Logee’s

It’s raining. And snowing. Again. This February has been a record month for precipitation here. We’ve had it all—rain, snow, ice–and lots of it. Winter is hanging on. My trowel is gathering dust, and atrophy threatens my digging muscles. So, I decided it was time for a green fix and took off on my annual pilgrimage to Connecticut’s horticultural Mecca, Logee’s. They’ve been selling unusual tender perennials and tropicals there for 116 years, and even after all that time the place doesn’t look very promising from the outside. But once you get through the door and descend to the greenhouse,a sensory experience begins. Barrages of color and riotous foliage in every size, shape and hue invite the eye. Clouds of fragrance tickle the nose. Deliciously humid air feels like summer, and best of all, aisle after aisle of exotic plants in teeny tiny pots are jammed side by side under a towering canopy of stock plants grown 5, 10, 15, 20 feet or more tall. It’s an indoor jungle, complete with canopy layer, understory, and ground covers.

 

How about this pairing of bougainvillea and Thunbergia grandiflora.

Begonias are the specialty of the house at Logee’s, and there are more varieties than most folks coulds imagine. Some of their deep-red leaved cultivars-like this ‘Miami Storm’- were a serious temptation. I could just picture this luscious red foliage paired some other similarly hued foliage and flowers in a mixed container.

These blue flowers are from a coleus grown for, of all things, its flowers (Solenostemon  thyrsoides –sorry, it’s a winter bloomer). They look smashing next to this chenille plant (Acalypha hispida).

One of my favoite spots at Logee’s has always been this little fern dell, with the trickling waterworks.

I’ve had an eye for passion flowers since seeing my first one, along the Rio Napo in Ecuador. Their structure is extraordinary; I can’t think of another bloom that boasts an architecture quite so complex. In hommage to that exquisite form, I’ve always gone for those with all the frills, but seeing this relatively simple form-a species dubbed, understandably, red passion flower (Passiflora miniata, aka Passiflora coccinea)-I could be persuaded that color is reason enough to grow a simpler-looking member of the passiflora clan.    

And how about this Clerodendrum quadriculare and begonia match-up?

And by the way, I could probably use some of these plant tags, especially the one in front. I have a lot of that plantus.

Being back in a garden gave me the inspiration to start thinking a little more seriously about the coming season. I left with a little box full of treasures, many of which will grace my garden this summer with bright orange flowers. I’m really looking forward to trying (yet again) Nong Noch vine (Petraeovitex bambusetorum) an over-priced must-have vine with way cool dangling yellow flowers. Maybe this time I can keep it alive. I guess that’s what makes Logee’s the quintessential winter experience for snowbound gardeners—it’s all about dreaming. The mistakes of the past season lie dead and buried. The promise of a new and perfect season beckons. And there are all those exotic plants, and the fun of contemplating new and different ways to fill those blank spots in a garden (and in pots) just waiting for the sun.

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7 Responses to Field Trip: Logee’s

  1. Lisa at Greenbow February 27, 2008 at 7:30 pm #

    OOOooooooo. A trip to Logees is dream inducing. I love begonias. There are so many. I wish I could have them alllllll. I could almost smell the greenhouse. Thank you for taking us along. I am dreaming about this coming season. The sun peaked out for a little while this afternoon teasing me while I was stuck at work. :) I too have lots of Plantus Unknownus. I didn’t realize they had such lovely plant tags for them. :)

    Let’s hear it for all those plantus unknownus Lisa! Logeees has so many kinds of amazing begonias that even when I didn’t like begonias, I bought some at Logee’s. There’s one for everyone, and that’s the place to find them.–Steve

  2. Kathryn Johnson February 27, 2008 at 9:05 pm #

    I haven’t been to Logees in years. Thanks for reminding me. I purchased a hoya from them years ago which was a favorite winter bloomer but became infested with ants last year. Time for a new one, perhaps. Winter is definately the time for road trips.

    Hi Kathryn–Come to think of it, I have seen–and been tempted by–some of their hoyas over the years, but I don’t recall seeing too many on this past outing. If you’re looking for winter bloomers though, they have plenty.–Steve

  3. Elly Phillips February 28, 2008 at 7:30 am #

    Oh wow Steve, I am SO jealous!!! I just got the latest Logee’s catalogue last week and have spent practically every waking moment between then and now reminding myself that I really haven’t won the lottery, no, that $2 ticket doesn’t count… sigh. ‘Miami Storm’… hmmm. And who could resist “Et tu, insectus”?!

    Have you been to Glasshouse Works? I haven’t, and would love to hear more about what that looks/is like, too. (It would never, ever have occurred to me that Logee’s looked like *that*.) And have you ever been to our Pennsylvania equivalent, Ott’s? Pretty much every plant there is “Plantus unknownus,” but it’s a genuine Victorian glasshouse with a waterfall room and is worth seeing for that reason alone. And, if one doesn’t mind doing a bit of nomenclatural digging, it has great plants, too!

    Hi Elly–No I’ve never been to Glasshouse Works, though I ‘d love to check it out. And I’ve never even heard of Ott’s. Where is it? Logee’s catalog certainly is full of temptation, but it surely would help to have a bagful of lottery winnings to be a serious shopper there. They are pricey, and the plants are small. It’s almost more fun to look than it is to collect there. I managed to get out the door with only 10 or so plants. –Steve

  4. Frances February 28, 2008 at 7:39 am #

    What a wonderful place to visit during the doldrums of winter. I would be there every day if we lived near enough. I can smell the sweetness of growing, lush plants. Sweet smelling violets were ordered from them recently, my first business with them although we have received the catalog for years. Thanks for the tour!

    Frances at Faire Garden

    Hi Frances–It sure is a good spot for an annual visit. I’m lucky it’s only about an hour and 15 minutes away. One of the things that makes going there such fun is that the place is so crammed there’s barely room to walk, and it’s nearly impossible to pass someone in one of the narrow pathways alloted to people. You’re really among the plants there, almost as if you become part of the landscape–a fine thing this time of year.—Steve

  5. Anna--Flowergardengirl February 29, 2008 at 12:43 am #

    First thing I thought was wow–it looks like a rainforest compared to our drought. My poor ferns fried to a crisp. I’ll take som of those plant unknowns too. I’m going to try and be better with my new gardens.

    Hi Anna-Logee’s looks like a rainforest compared to anywhere, well, except for a real rain forest. Trying to be better with new gardens is the perpetual late-winter gardener’s mantra isn’t it? I know it’s mine.–Steve

  6. Layanee February 29, 2008 at 9:33 am #

    Steve: I am LOL at the pictures on your post. I posted on Logee’s a week ago concerning Viola odorata but the pictures I took of the other plants are almost identical to yours! Uncanny! Wish I knew you were going. We could have had a hort meeting!

    Ummm…great minds think alike? Checked your site, and Anna your gardens look mighty inviting; I’m jealous about that greenhouse. You can really take advantage of Logee’s this time of year. Also in our neck of the woods, relatively speaking, have you ever been to Quackin’ Grass in Brooklyn, CT? Great nursery for unusual hard-to-find hardy plants. Owner Wayne Paquette is a font of garden wisdom and he’s made some great display gardens. Future hort meeting there, perhaps.–Steve

  7. Elly Phillips March 1, 2008 at 7:25 am #

    Hi Steve! Check out the March 1 post on Poor Richard’s Almanac (http://ourfriendben.wordpress.com, or through Blotanical) for more about Ott’s. You should definitely go next time you’re down in PA–no worries about high prices there, and lots of fun plants!

    Thanks Elly–I did check that out and guess what, I now have another must-visit garden center spot for my next trip to PA. Thanks, Steve