Blue Heron landscape Design | 2011 March
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March 2011

29 Mar Three Questions With… Laurelynn Martin of Logee’s Tropical Plants!

Today, I’d like to introduce you to another new series here on Blue Heron Landscapes, called “Three Questions With…” It’ll be a chance to dig a little deeper into the nursery visits, coax secrets out of design pros, or simply a quick post on something I have been wanting to learn more about. I hope you enjoy this series, and especially our first guest on the hot seat, Laurelynn Martin from Logee’s Tropical Plants!

Regular readers will remember last week’s post on our Connecticut Garden Blogger’s visit to Logee’s Tropical Plants in Danielson, CT.  If you missed it you can find it here. As we walked around the nursery I fell in love with the age of the buildings and wondered of the stories behind a business that has survived for so long. I decide to ask a few questions of the owner, and she was gracious enough to provide these answers.

 

BHL: How did Logee’s come to be, and what is your part in its story?

Laurelynn: Byron and I are business partners and co-parents (not spouses). We are the present owners of Logee’s. I’ve been around for about 20 years. Byron grew up in the business, he is third generation. His Grandfather, William D. Logee, started the business in 1892 as a cut-flower business,and then quickly became interested in tropical and unusual plants.  Our famous Ponderosa Lemon Tree, “the American Wonder Lemon” was brought up in 1900 by train from Philadelphia and then was picked up by horse and buggy at the Danielson Train station and is still in the original greenhouse today. It produces fruit up to 5 pounds. We propagate off this original plant today.

BHL: Logee’s has been around a long time, how is it that it has survived when so many garden centers haven’t?

Laurelynn: Logee’s has survived through innovation and change. In the great depression, Byron’s mother, Joy Logee Martin, had an interest in scented geraniums and Begonias and started the first mail-order catalogue in the 1930’s. Besides mailing plants in the 30’s Logee’s also went door-to-door selling plants until the depression was over. Most of our business is still through mail-order (80 percent) where we sell 2.5 or 4 inch pots, wrap them and ship them all over the country. However, our walk-in trade, is about 20%. We have survived lately by always seeking out the unusual, the rare and our big movement is toward sustainability and going green. Our most popular category of plants is tropical fruits.  Growing your own food! Our “going green efforts” are seen in our most recent project of building an energy-efficient greenhouse (which saves us about 70% in fuel). We are also practicing IPM (Integrated Pest Management). We are an environmentally conscious company.

BHL: What changes do you see in today’s market, and how is Logee’s prepared to meet them?

Laurelynn: In Today’s market, people are interested in not only the product offering but what the company stands for. Our new greenhouse reduces our carbon footprint and our use of IPM instead of chemicals is safer for our workers and our consumers. We are also aware of keeping in touch with our customers through social media and letting people know that we are local, growing our own product. We also stay in touch with what consumers want. They want any plants to do with producing food. We are also expanding into medicinal plants fully aware of health and wellness as a major factor in today’s aging baby boomers.

 

Thank you Laurelynn, for sharing a little history of Logee’s and a peak into what’s to come. And to all you plantaholics out there (you know who you are), make sure to add a visit to Logee’s to your horticultural bucket list, you’ll be glad you did!

 

See you in the garden,

Scott

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28 Mar To CSA or Not to CSA… An experiment!

Brassicas in a field at Holcomb Farm

 

A number of years back, we were members of the Holcomb Farm CSA in West Granby. It was a wonderful experience, and new to the area at the time. After a few years we ended our membership and I can’t for the life of me remember why. I guess sometimes life happens. I looked into rejoining this past winter, and found it had become quite popular with the locals and that it sells out it’s shares out each year, rightfully so! It also has risen in cost to over $600.00 for a full share. This is really not that expensive when you consider the quantity of fresh organic produce you receive. In fact, a full share can be very overwhelming and actually too much for a small family, so they also offer half shares. If your are interested in joining a CSA, Holcomb Farm is a real gem, but get in line early next year!

Needless to say, there were no shares available when I looked into it. Not a problem actually, as I had in the back of my mind already decided to plant a vegetable garden this spring and most likely wouldn’t need to join a CSA. Now that our not being members is official, I have decided to take our garden up a notch!

Inspiration comes in many forms, and so is the case for the Hokunson vegetable garden. The usual suspects, freshness, taste and organic are there, but over the past few years a few books have added their nudging as well. The most notable of these is “The Onivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan. An eye opening, and stomach turning foray into the world of modern food production. If you haven’t read it, I urge you do so now, it will change the way you think about food. I give the following as evidence; Our 19 year old son and his friends refused to eat at Taco Bell after hearing details of beef production in this book… Booyah!

Recently, two excellent reads on growing edibles also have inspired me. They are “Front Yard Food” by Ivette Soler, and “Grow the Good Life” by Michele Owens. Both very inspiring works. You can find my reviews of them here:

Front Yard Food Review on Blue Heron Landscapes

Grow the good life Review on Blue Heron Landscapes

So anyway, you get the idea, I am inspired! So here is the experiment: Over the course of this season, I am going to track the Hokunson veggie garden in words and pictures here on the blog. I’ll report back to you on a regular basis (as regular as I can) with our results. I’ll record costs, inputs, methods, problems, and most of all harvests. What’s the point, you ask? To compare what we spend here against the cost of produce in the store and also vs. the $600.00 we would have spent at the CSA. Plus, I really feel like sharing.

How will it end? If I could answer that now, I wouldn’t need the experiment.

Expected results? I know we will have fresh delicious produce (I have gardened before), but I have never quantified the results. Accountants take note! let’s see just how the back yard garden looks on the P&L statment.

I am looking forward to getting out in garden this year, I missed it immensely last year. I am centered and find peace when I am in the garden, it recharges me.

So what are you doing this year in your garden? Growing food? Annuals? Adding new landscape beds? We would love to hear form you, please leave a comment!

Until next time,

See you in the garden!

 

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25 Mar Waiting for the show to begin…

One of my favorite teachers back in the day used to love to recite the following poem each spring;

Spring has sprung

the grass is ris

I wonder where the birdies is?

The Daffs have ris!

We have all groaned through this epic, and his delight in the corny humor of the moment was lost on the young minds in his charge. Ironically I find delight myself in the same poor attempts at humor these days. I have been thinking about that verse this week, while waiting for spring to actually pop. After  one of the snowiest winters on record, it seems to be taking longer than usual to begin. Maybe its just experience (read: aging) effecting perception.

I took a walk around the yard yesterday and captured a few images of a stark landscape about to awaken. The anticipation is as thick as molasses.

Enjoy!

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24 Mar Great Plant Places! – Logee’s

“Great Plant Places!” is a new series of posts here on Blue Heron Landscapes, profiling great places to find plants and garden accessories. We’ll be visiting local and regional nurseries, and providing you our readers, with a review. If you your a plant geek like me, you won’t want to miss a single post! If you would like to recommend a nursery for this series, please feel free to send me an email and let me know about it.

This past Tuesday, I met a few Connecticut Garden Bloggers in Connecticut’s quiet corner, that’s the northeast corner of the state for those of you keeping score. Our trip began with lunch at The Vanilla Bean Cafe, a Zagat rated gem in Putnam, CT. After a delicious grilled cheese with smoked provalone, canadian bacon and apple slices (YUM!), we headed off to Logee’s Tropical Plants, in Danielson.

Logee’s has been selling plants since 1892. Yes, you heard that right, 1892! They have been around a long time, and sell over one thousand varieties of tropicals in containers for the home and garden. The front entrance of Logee’s is very unassuming, and belies the wonder to be found within.

Logee's Entrance

Once inside however, you soon begin to feel transported magically through time and space to a world that is more storybook than present day commerce. The main room just inside the front door, is welcoming and has the feel of an old barn. Vines cling to almost every surface, and droop from the ceiling, mimicking a tropical forest. A cashiers table is to the right, and a potting table to the left where customers can pot up their newly purchased tropical plant before leaving, with potting soil that is compliments of the house! That’s right the soil is free with the purchase of the pots and plants (Garden centers take note!).

Staff at Logee's is friendly and knowledgeable

Vines on the ceiling, a tropical forest!

Free Soil!

A steep narrow set of stairs leads you from the main room down into the greenhouse. There are several greenhouses, each with several rows of plants crowding over the pathways giving the impression that the visitor is trekking through a dense jungle, stumbling upon rare and wonderful blossoms. There is fruit in the forest also; Lemon, Kumquat, Grapefruit and more!

Narrow paths lead to exciting discoveries!

The highlight of our trip was to see the beautiful Turquoise Jade Vine (Stongylodon macrobotrys) in full bloom. A rare treat indeed!

Turquoise Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys)

Turquoise Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys)

Turquoise Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys)

A place this old is not without stories, and Logee’s is no exception. When asked why a Kumquat grew right in the middle of one of the paths, we were told that it had been delivered to a woman in the 1930’s,  and been returned, as she did not want it. It was set down on the greenhouse floor, and there it stayed until the roots grew through the pot and took hold. The pot soon broke apart and now some seventy odd years later it towers over the benches, full of fruit. Funny how sometimes plants don’t seem to care where they grow.

 

Left behind, this Kumquat has survived

A plant will always find a way!

Doesn't seem to be suffering

At Logee’s wonder wait round every corner, and half the fun of visiting is the excitement of discovery. Sharing what the great plant explorers of our time must have felt on their treks to new and exotic places. That is rare experience for a New Englander, but thanks to Logee’s, it’s one that can that can be had all in one day. Many thanks to my fellow explorers this day, Joene Hendry from Joene’s Garden, Cindy Cromwell from Gardening Asylum, and Layanee DeMerchant from Ledge and Gardens. And a big thanks to the Logee’s Owner’s and staff! They were very gracious and knowledgeable.

If you find yourself in Connecticut’s quiet corner, are looking for an exciting day trip, or simply are a plant geek like me, you’ll enjoy a visit to Logee’s! For those of you too far to make the trek, you can find their offerings on their website.

Please enjoy this slideshow with many more pictures of our trip!

Been to Logee’s, or know of another nursery, garden or garden center that would be perfect for “Great Plant Places!”? I’d love to hear about it, please leave a comment!

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