Hot Colors, Wild Shapes, Racing Pulses


Begonia_china_curlJust in time for this week’s snow dump in the Northeast, a catalog arrived in the mail that offered me an hour of free entertainment and a warm glow: Logee’s, which bills itself as "tropical container plants for home and garden."

While I don’t do very well with container plants in the home–finding them generally about as much fun as depressed houseguests–I do love a humongous pot or two of something weird in the garden in the summer. 

But it’s hard to find interesting annuals.  Even the fancy nurseries in my part of the world offer not much besides pansies and the boring varieties of impatiens. 

I’ve only gotten what I wanted because there is a really unlikely nursery in the unfancy countryside near me.  Devoted to annuals and vegetable seedlings, it’s owned by a sophisticated couple who have always been way ahead of their market.  So I’ve been able to buy nice stuff like heliotropes, fun pink or chartreuse caladiums, tiny little miniature impatiens in hot colors, and tuberous begonias already blooming.  (I’ve had no luck trying to start those babies in a windowsill early.  They just get leggy and rotten.)   

But the owners of this nursery have recently sold their house, started spending more of each winter in a balmy clime and are clearly losing interest in expanding their upstate customers’ horizons.

Pelargonium_skiesofitally Can Logee’s fill this gap?  They’re comparatively expensive, but the catalog suggests numerous thrills:

  1. Rex begonias with their paisley-swirling leaves.  My God, these are gorgeous!
  2. A bat-winged begonia with white polka dots: B. Maculata var. ‘Wightii.’
  3. Pelargoniums with fancy leaves.  I love a classic red-flowered geranium.  Think I love Logee’s ‘Skies of Italy’ even more.

I was also gripped by the idea of a fig tree theoretically hardy to Zone 5… only to learn from Logee’s website that Ficus carica ‘Danny’s Delight’ is not in stock.  Too many other fig lovers in upstate New York?  Fresh figs are one of life’s great pleasures any way you get them–grow ’em, buy ’em, or steal ’em– but try them on a pizza with onion confit, provolone, and prosciutto.

And Logee’s offers a passion flower variety named Incense that is supposedly hardy to Zone 6.  No way, I say, but they’ve probably won my $10.95 for it anyway.


  1. Logee’s is, indeed, a plant lover’s delight! The perfect antidote to NDD, or Nature Deficit Disorder, from which many of us are now suffering. I would be happy to offer my ‘eyes’ to you as I live only a short distance from this gem. The greenhouses are old, packed, and delightful and I would definitely recommend a field trip to you all. One word of caution… small! The plants are beautiful and healthy but it will take a little time and patience to achieve similar results to the plant pictured. I have found that those Rex begonias do thrive on neglect!

  2. ‘Skies of Italy’? That cultivar name makes me gag. The one I called was called ‘Zonal’. And if that’s what the flowers look like, I’ll be cutting them off. I love the foliage tho’. The reddish tint comes and goes with full sun. Comes with, goes without.

  3. Logee’s is wonderful! Great quality, unusual plants. The best thing to do is visit, you will not believe their greenhouses. I went one snowy Feb. or March day and datura, brugmansia, begonias, abutilon,fuschia,bougainvillea etc were in bloom.Some of the plants are as old as the old, old greenhouses!

  4. Figs? Chicago Hardy is good to Zone 6, but hey, haul it into your basement in October, throw a burlap sack over it, fuhgeddabout it until April, haul it back outside and you’ve got your figs.

  5. Logees is great but pricey–you might also want to consider Select Seeds. They carry 6 varieties of heliotrope including a glorious white cultivar that is a blooming machine. Also species nicotiana, old-fashioned varieties of geranium, sweet peas, and much more. A lot of very charming, old-fashioned plants impossible to find elsewhere.

    I am talking about plants, by the way, not seeds. The name is deceptive. They do have seeds. I don’t mess with seeds.

    I have also been warned that the Logees plants are quite small. With our summer, how big will they get? At those prices, you’ll want to winter them indoors. And you won’t like that. I am going to buy a few things–in fact, I’m off to their website now!

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