Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Martha Stewart's Gardener Visits Logee's

We love showing our greenhouses to visitors and especially enjoyed the other day when Shaun Kass, Martha Stewart’s estate gardener and his wife, Jen, came for a tour. We started in the “Long House” where Shaun’s 6’1" stature barely fit into our antique Glasshouse. Byron is in the background smiling, pleased that at 5’ 10” he has no problem navigating the aisles. Notice the Petrea volubilous alba vine, also known as White Queen's Wreath, flowering on a trailing vine near Shaun's left arm.

Next, we showed them our famous Ponderosa Lemon
Tree that has been growing in the Lemon Tree house since the early 1900’s.
Byron’s Great Grandfather bought the lemon tree from a grower in Philadelphia and had the tree delivered by horse and buggy. The underside of the lemon tree and all its branches show the old gnarly structure. Thousands of cuttings have been taken from this tree and the fruit can weigh up to 5 pounds. Jen is holding only a one-pound ponderosa lemon that we just picked.

This is a photo of Shaun and Byron hunting for the red ripe coffee beans on our Coffea arabica plant that has rooted into the ground. The structure of the tree is upright and continues to grow tall. Every year, we have to cut the top off to contain the size. The plant still produces flowers and beans even when pruned hard. This variety is the coffee of commerce and it is one of the easiest plants to grow. Plus, the coffee plant produces flowers twice a year giving off a light, pleasing fragrance.

While we wandered through our propagation houses Jen couldn’t resist the “Sea of Streps” (Streptocarpus) or Cape
Primrose. We have 14 varieties and they all have the ability to bloom year-round with amazing color. This close-up bloom is called Streptocarpus 'Spiritual Corridor.' I find if you look close enough you can see the outline of an Angel.

Other plants that were in flower on this February visit were the bright yellow Thunbergia 'Sunlady' with its defining brown center and the "Blue Skyflower" of India also known as Thunbergia grandiflora. I was happy to see that some of our other reliable bloomers were performing for our special guests such as Plumbago indica in full bloom, gracefully cascading with vibrant pink color.

We love this shot of Shaun and Jen standing under our soon-to-be released flowering basket of Duranta erecta compacta 'Little Geisha Girl'. Unlike the regular 'Geisha Girl' variety, this form is more compact and blooms are held tighter on the weeping stems making it a wonderful hanging basket. John Lucas from Tradewinds Botanicals gets credit for this variety.

We made sure they had plenty of gifts to go home with. Here is Shaun with a popular Sansevieria, Lithops or Living Stones, and a rare plant from our collection called a Haemanthus albiflos, known as "Dappled Snowbrush." The leaves look like orchid foliage. Jen is holding another Living Stone and I have a citrus gift for them, our popular Meyer Lemon Plant with a ripe meyer lemon from our mother plant.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Inside Logee's, Finding the Unusual!

Logee's has been around since 1892 and just knowing that will explain many of these pictures. When you walk through Logee's things have just sort of grown where they were placed. Some plants have remained in the same spot for years,
while other plants simply wind themselves around whatever structure is available. Come take a look!
The entrance photo has a metal chain pulley, which is a hand-crank vent, that towers amongst the tropical flowers and foliage. Another beauty that surrounds a man-made structure is Thunbergia mysorensis. This rare flower form makes itself known in the "Big House." Long vines dangle with yellow and burgundy flowers blooming
their heads off from winter through summer. The flowers reach for the iron heating pipe and suspend themselves in mid-air above or beyond the heat source.
Another unusual sight in the "Big House", growing in the middle of the aisle, is the base of a plant that looks like an upside down pot. Soft green moss and algae grow on the roots' ridges, attesting to the age of this kumquat tree. This impressive trunk has long outgrown its pot and has rooted itself into the ground over 70 years ago. Today, it is
home to over 5 different varieties of kumquats, plus a variegated calamondin orange. The vigor of the original tree, Fortunella margarita 'Nagami' has such a strong root system that other varieties have been successfully grafted on. 'Nagami' is the oval kumquat that can be
bought in a local grocery store. The next kumquat that is most prevalent on the tree is the Meiwa, which is the round sweet kumquat.
Logee's is a great place for vining plants. The vanilla orchid vine is a
favorite of mine climbing up the wall of our propagation house. We carry Vanilla planifolia and the vine, like this one, has to get about 4-5 feet before it begins blooming and producing vanilla beans. The trick to producing vanilla beans is first,make sure your vanilla plant is up to size and second, you must hand pollinate the flower during the blooming season.
Notice how the tendrils have wrapped themselves around
the piping, the vents and fan, yet here it has grown happily for the past 20 years.
One more site that amazes our visitors is this wheel vent that we have to crank open and shut every day. It's not so much
the antiquity of the wheel but the ficus vine that has
snuggly found a home along the pipes. Since we're on the topic of unusual, one plant worth mentioning is our very rare, intensely fragrant Tabernaemontana holstii. I walked into the greenhouses this morning and not only did its 5-pointed curled petal grab my attention, the sweetness of the flowers sent a fragrant reminder that yes, Spring is on the way! Of course, this is only a smattering of unusual forms that you'll see at Logee's. Mostly, you will be immersed in colorful flowers and intoxicating fragrance in a green world from head to toe.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Logee's Attends New England Grows

Last week we attended the New England Grows show in Boston, Massachusetts, only about an hour and ten minutes from Logee’s. We go every year to keep our finger on the pulse of the gardening industry. We are especially interested in the latest trends so we can keep up with what’s new and learn how to satisfy the requests of our consumers. This year over 1400 booths displayed their wares. Sham Elshahks, our business manager, Amy Miller, our retail supervisor, Tiffany DeBruycker, one of our retail salesperson and I attended. We were told over the next three days that 13,000 green industry professionals like ourselves would walk the floors of the Boston Convention and Expostion Center. The first exhibitor that caught our eye with a lucious “Green Wall” was Quansett Nurseries from South Dartmouth MA. They built a steel frame and grew the ferns and grasses for their green wall. We learned this is an upcoming trend in home gardening, especially on a deck or patio. Next, we visited with Rimol Greenhouses, from Hookset, New Hampshire. They are in the running as the supplier for our new four-bay production greenhouse that we plan to build this spring.
The latest trend in gardening is growing succulents in your home garden. We grow sansevierias at Logee's that have become very popular. They are easy to care for, generally don’t need a lot of attention, yet their unusual form and compact nature make them great candidates for the windowsill gardener. Sunny Borders from
Kensington, CT had beautiful succulent gardens in various sized saucers on display. As did Shady Oaks from Waseca, MN . They displayed their succulents in clear juice glasses so we could easily see the healthy root system.
Amy and Tiffany at the end of the day still smiling as they pose by an impressive planter.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Logee's in Mid-Winter

This morning my thermometer read 24 degrees below freezing. I couldn't wait to get to work today because I knewI could escape the cold just by walking in the front door. Outside of Logee's a blanket of white snow covered the outdoor gardens and I was glad that our hardy banana was fast asleep under the frosted haystack. With a few steps to the front door I left the stark stillness behind me and walked into an alive, pleasantly balmy space. I walked around our seven retail greenhouses, letting the flowers and fragrance guide me.

Our mid-winter flowering plants were everywhere. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of Medinilla Magnifica housed in our “Potting Shed.” This impressive bloomer displayed large umbells of pink blooms that were cheery and welcoming. Of course, it would take 2-3 years to get flowers like this from a seed grown plant but once mature, flowers can be expected from spring through summer and for high light places like the greenhouses, mid-winter gave way to blooms.

Another surprise this morning was the single bloom of a red passion flower (called Passiflora piresii) in the “Long House.” Since passion flowers only bloom for a day, it was amazing to find this bright red flower perfectly happy growing inside the greenhouses on one of the coldest days of the year.

Next, the sweet fragrance coming from the “Big House” drew me into the depths of its tropics. The double ball standard of “Canary Island Broom” (Genista canariensis) was beginning its blooming season (January to April). The Big House is cooler at night, therefore, inducing blooms for many plants in that greenhouse, like our camellias.

My walk continued into the “Extension House” where a single bloom filled the house with an intoxicating fragrance. Gardenia nitidia is a rare gardenia that blooms intermittently throughout the year and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time for flowers and fragrance.