Roadtrip to Logee’s

Every year around this time Gail, our friend Mary Ann, and I plan a trip to Logee’s greenhouses in Danielson, CT. It’s not far away — no more than an hour and a half from here but it feels like an excursion. It’s our tropical vacation. If you haven’t heard of Logee’s check out their website and order their catalog. But I warn you: if you love houseplants or tropicals even a little bit, it’s dangerous. If you live anywhere within 300 miles or so, visit the actual greenhouses. They are antique, totally funky, deliciously warm, and beautifully overgrown with hundred-plus year-old plants growing in the ground, blooming and fruiting gangbusters. Every plant, for sale or not, is astoundingly healthy. The plants for sale are tiny cuttings, which makes it all too easy to palm a dozen and they are dear (read expensive) but so worth it. Like a fabulous pair of new shoes: a splurge. But that’s why we limit our visits to once a year.

This year we had a rare treat. The proprietors, Byron and Laurelynn Martin, gave us a grand tour that included their research and mother-plant house – one of the old greenhouses in back. It was chock-full of blooming begonias and plants that they’re still figuring out how to grow like mango and cocoa – both had fruit. In Connecticut! They gave us tastes of crazy things (miracle fruit for one) and tips on how to propagate the seed. (I’ll let you know how that goes.)

They also gave us a tour of their brand new state-of-the-art production and shipping greenhouse out back. Entering Logee’s retail space, you’d almost never know that there is a booming-huge mail-order business behind the scenes. But they send out as many as 300 orders a day during peak times. It’s hard to imagine where they worked before the new facility was built because this space, which must be about an acre, was full to the gills and run like a very tight ship. Byron gave us an enthusiastic rundown of their scientifically monitored and orchestrated – and fascinating biological controls. There were packets of good bugs that feed on the bad ones and certain plants grown just to keep other good bugs growing. They hardly use any chemical pesticides at all anymore. He allowed as how it is more expensive but much better for generations of plants and people in the long run. And it’s clear that Byron and Laurelynn are, and already have been in this business for the long run.

Do you ever allow yourself a Logee’s splurge?