Ernest and Joy Martin (c.1950)
Ernest Martin (c.1950)
Logee's 114 year old Lemon Tree
Logee's Retail Store
Logee’s Greenhouses was started by William D. Logee in 1892 in Danielson, Connecticut. He started as a cut flower business and soon became interested in tropical and unusual plants. In 1900, he bought a small Ponderosa Lemon tree from a grower in Philadelphia. It was known as the “American Wonder Lemon” due to the size of the fruit, which could get as large as 5 pounds. The tree was a must for the Logee collection. It was shipped via train, then picked up by horse and buggy and directly planted into the ground in the original greenhouse. The same tree in the same greenhouse (appropriately called the Lemon Tree House) still stands today, and is reliably producing 5-pound lemons every year. Hundreds of thousands of propagations have been harvested from this original tree.
William’s eldest son, Ernest Logee, became interested in horticulture and turned his attention to growing tropical plants in containers, making these plants accessible to any one living anywhere. His interests centered around the unusual form of Begonias. He hybridized begonias for Logee’s and was one of the original founders of the American Begonia Society, creating the Buxton Branch in Massachusetts. He was drawn to Semperflorens as well as Rex begonias. He hybridized his own begonia and named them the Mother Goose Series. Examples of his hybridized begonias are Lucy Locket, Pied Piper, Goldie Locks, Mother Goose and Pistachio. Periodically, we bring his Begonias back into production. Under the direction of Ernest Logee, Logee’s at one time grew over 400 varieties of begonias. Ernest Logee died as a young man when he fell from a tree he was pruning. When his younger sister, Joy Logee went to his funeral, she met her future husband Ernest Martin who was also a horticulturist and member of the Begonia Society.
After William Logee’s passing in 1952, Joy Logee Martin and Ernest Martin became Logee’s Greenhouses second-generation owners. Joy turned her attention to scented geraniums and herbs and also kept her brother’s legacy of Begonias alive and well. They continued to grow Angel-wing, or Fibrous begonias, Tuberous begonias, Rex begonias and Rhizomatous begonias. Logee’s in the mid- 1900’s became well-known as a supplier of begonias, scented geraniums, gesneriads, herbs, tropicals and house plants of the unusual and other unusual tropical plants.
The first catalog was started in the 1930’s and Joy’s beloved collection of herbs, geraniums and begonias was so extensive that lists were created, hence the beginning of very crude catalogs.
Joy Logee Martin had two sons, Geoffrey K. Martin and Byron E. Martin. Geoffrey became a physicist and a university professor. His first wife, Tovah Martin is part of the Logee history and worked and trained at Logee’s during the early part of her career. Today she is a well-known horticultural author and garden editor. Geoffrey presently is the Assistant Dean of the Math and Science Dept. at the University of Toledo, married to Shamita with their three children, Neera, Tvisha and Aiden.
Byron Martin remained at Logee’s. In his early twenties he decided to turn Logee’s Greenhouses into a place where not only customers could visit, but a place that could provide unusual tropical flowering and fragrant plants. The one criteria that was important to Byron was that whatever plant he brought into the Logee’s collection had to perform well in a pot. Today, Byron is instrumental in finding new plant materials.
Byron decided if he were going to dedicate his life to the family business he needed to bring the place into some semblance of order. One afternoon, he took his chain saw into the retail greenhouse, named the Big House, and cut down everything that was unruly, vining into walkways, and overgrown; pruning at its best!
As the business grew, Byron built more greenhouses and built two propagation houses. The energy crisis hit in the 70’s and heating old glass greenhouses took its toll. Byron decided to heat the entire range of greenhouses with cord wood one season. After harvesting his own wood and burning over 50 cords, he opted to build a passive solar greenhouse to capture nature’s energy as well as a herb pit, which was built half-way underground.
In the 90’s Bryon married Laurelynn Glass Martin. Although, today Byron and Laurelynn are no longer married, they are the best of friends and share ownership in Logee’s and co-parent their two children, Elijah and Angel Martin.
Laurelynn came from a business and writing background and was instrumental in re-branding Logee’s, finding the right people for the right job in their growing company. She and Byron changed the name of Logee’s Tropical Plants to Tropical Container Plants for Home and Garden. She does much of the writing, photography, and media relations. Most recently they wrote a federal grant for a new state of the art 4 bay gutter connected production greenhouse. Byron and Laurelynn have also co-authored, Logee’s Spectacular Container Plants and recently released (Oct. 2010) Growing Tasty Tropicals in Any Home, Anywhere, a book about growing small tropical fruit trees in containers.
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