February 26, 2014


This past weekend I made a journey down to Logee's Greenhouses in Danielson, CT. Not much of a journey as Logee's is only about 6 exits down on the highway from my house, but none the less, it's always an adventure, especially when hunting for interesting begonias, as Logee's has a long history with both begonia breeding, and with the American Begonia Society.  I am starting to think about summer containers, and although I will be writing a future post specifically about my ideas for interesting container specimen plants, I wanted to share with you some of these begonias, and then few other treasures which I found this weekend at Logees, (and in my own greenhouse).

Begonias, especially the rhizomatous type such as this B. 'Shooting Star', have fancy leaf patterns, with endless combinations of color, but when assembled together in a collection of like forms, somehow, appear more botanically interesting. Add some nice Guy Wolff pots, and... 'Boom - Epic Wow'.

I never tire of the begonia clan, especially those know as Rhizomatous Begonias, classing old fashioned house plants from Victorian days, they also make impressive summer container plants for shady spots outdoors, and this is the perfect time to start assembling a collection, as the few nurseries who carry them will have the largest selection. Lovers of warmth, bright shade and a good, peaty potting mix, these tropical woodland plants also crave humidity, as long as there are gentle breezes to dry their delicate leaves off after a summer rainstorm, but many also make excellent and well behaved house plants.

A collection of begonias provides color and interest for a shady side of the house, an entrance or on a deck, where I keep much of my collection, on some custom made steps that I had a local handyman make.

A north windowsill or office desk will suit them fine, but you may want to take a tip from the Begonia Society folk, and grow some in a terrarium or a large, glass bowl, where they truly shine. I prefer to keep collections through the winter in an unheated room, but then allow them to truly show off in some of my summer displays out of doors, where I try to assemble as many forms as possible in tiered displays on our shady deck, and on the back porch.

I tried to focus on begonias, while at Logee's but it was difficult to resist some of the other plants, especially the newer introductions. I still left with only two boxes of plants. I will shop for other summer container plants later, such as salvia.

It may seem as if it is too early to start buying plants for containers, as there is still plenty of snow on the ground, but since I have a greenhouse, I might as well make some use of it, right? Besides, as we all know, one must grab while the opportunity exists, for like the perfect pair of shoes, or a cool shirt in the perfect size and fit, the perfect plant can too simply not be there when one returns to buy it a few weeks from now. At least I have convinced myself about this fact. Shut up.


Even if you do not have a greenhouse, if you have a bright garage, a glassed-in porch, a sunroom or a cool, unheated bedroom - you should be taking advantage of this bit of time, tuck in a few brugmansia or oleander, which will surely sulk until the weather warms, but in a large pot, they will readily focus on root formation, building a strong foundation, making their transition from stump to sturdy growth in May, when you will move their large pots out into the garden.


 At Logee's I also discovered some new plants, as you will see, but also many rhizotomas begonias, of which I can never seem to have enough of. These, in particular must be purchased when one sees them, for with 200 or so varieties, and only 5 or 6 of each available at one time, I rarely see many of these for sale at the same time. I've been going to Logees for - dare I say, 35 years or more, and I still find new begonias and tropicals to add to my collections. These small, 2.5 inch pots will quickly fill a 6, 8 or 10 inch clay pot by mid summer, and with a few dozen varieties displayed all together, will make an interesting display.

Many of these types of begonias actually bloom in late winter, or spring. An added bonus for those of use who keep such collections for a few years. This tall blossom belongs to B. 'Madame Queen'.

This standard Genista canariensis captured my attention, not because it is so awesome, but because I let mine freeze this fall ( I was lazy, and left it plunged in the garden). It was about the same size as this. Now, I wish I brought it back into the greenhouse. Still, sometimes it good to take a couple of years off from a plant.

In the main house at Logee's. a typical conservatory display of orange Streptosolen jamesonii, or Marmalade Plant, blue Coleus thyrisoides and Chenile Plant, transport visitors back into the 19th century.  Sorry, poor iPhone photo.


I thought that I would share a few of my Clivia crosses. Right now, I am just numbering them.

I was calling this favorite, 'Muggle Drops'. after our late Irish Terrier, Margaret. It's both green and orange, and a favorite of mine.

I love this dark salmon color, and these long, tubular shaped blossoms. Any name ideas?

It seems that the snow will never end here in the Eastern US. With bitter cold temperature expected to dip near 0º F this week, my little side trip to Miami tomorrow is starting to excite me. More about that, soon.
If you are interested in buying some of these begonias via mail order, I highly recommend these sources:

Logee's Greenhouses
Kartuz Greenhouses
The Violet Barn
Lauray of Salisbury

Oh, and I almost forgot.... I'll be speaking at the annual Sakonnet Garden Symposium in Rhode Island this July 26th. The theme this year is The Art of Vegetable Gardening. Please plan on joining me along with Aaron Bertelsen of Great Dixter, and Margaret Roach whom we all know and love from her well written blog awaytogarden.com. I plan to present a  new presentation on bespoke veggies, forcing, heirloom and hard-to-grow veg.



  1. Funny, I was just looking at begonias on Logee's website yesterday. Next time I'm headed north, I think I'll need to make a side trip.

    1. ...or you can place an order, I am sure that they won't mind!

  2. that paulensis is mad! i remember seeing so many amazing begonias growing wild in hawaii. to think they were my starter plant when i was a clueless college student. nice post, thx!

  3. john in Cranston8:54 PM

    I was at Logees about a month ago and was happily surprised by the infrastructure work that they seemed to do in the past year, especially the concrete pavers making getting about in there less of a challenge ( at 6'1", there's still plenty of stooping to be had).
    Plant selection is always a great, exciting, informative. But mid-winter, it's the perfect place to recharge my garden batteries. I bought a Meyer lemon and an epiphylum anguliger for my birthday present.

    Has anyone been to Lyman Estates, speaking of recharging in a greenhouse mid-winter?
    I have yet to go...

    1. I was going to go to Lyman greenhouses last weekend with Tovah Martin, but then she wanted to get ready for the Philadelphia flower show, where she was speaking, and I had to go to Miami this weekend. I went to the estate last year, the camelias are always worth it!

    2. john in Cranston8:59 AM

      Then it's a plan: Get me to Lyman.
      I had the opportunity to wander the grounds of the Huntington Library in Pasadena when I stumbled across the camellia collection: A forest of camellias in bloom. It was a tad overwhelming....

      See you in Little Compton!

  4. Wonderful post! I had the pleasure of visiting Logee's when I interned at Garden in the Woods in Framingham, MA. I'm afraid I caused a bit of a slipping hazard in the greenhouses (drool, you know). I don't have any begonias from them, but I have two rex hybrids that have performed very well from Steve's Leaves in Texas. They are another great source for indoor foliage plants and are also doing some breeding work with begonias. I can attest to their crosses, 'Starry Night' and 'Old Blue' being fantastic indoor plants, even in less than ideal humidity (< 50%). Great packing and fantastic customer service. Love the clivias, also. Sorry, no name ideas for the salmon one (well, no good ones).

    1. Oh great, I never heard of Steve's Leaves! Always great to hear about new sources. Thanks for sharing that!


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