Profile: Joy Logee Martin

Matriarch of a flower Dynasty.

| December/January 1995

  • Joy Logee Martin, here surrounded by flowers in one of her greenhouses, has spent a lifetime with horticulture. Her love of herbs and flowers is her family’s legacy.
    Photography by Tovah Martin
  • With practiced motions, Joy’s hands quickly shape a Victorian-style nosegay.

Joy Logee Martin is the anchor of Logee’s Greenhouses in Danielson, ­Connecticut. Horticulturist, grower, and artist, Joy has been working in the greenhouse since she was old enough to walk. She is a founding member of the American Begonia Society, secretary and horticulture chairwoman of the New England Herb Society, and a fifty-eight-year member of The Herb Society of America. Her plant collections include species from all over the world, and she has developed many new varieties herself. I ­visited her at the family greenhouses.

"My father was a Victorian,” Joy Logee Martin said. Wil­liam Logee did not have the industrialist’s flare of his father, a Rhode Island investor and inventor. Instead, the young man took after the generations of farmers in his ancestry. “He loved roses,” his daughter recalled. “He wanted to be a rose grower.” When he was eighteen years old, his father sent him to Boston so that he could learn from the best growers in the region. The year was 1888.

In 1892, young Logee returned to his native Danielson, Connecticut, and married the girl next door, Ida James. That same year, they opened a greenhouse and flower shop and started what was to become a large family. “My mother was a botanist,” Joy said. “She took us to the woods and fields, where we gathered herbs. She used herbs in the home for colds and coughs, childhood illnesses. My father gathered elder flowers in June and dried them in the attic on a blanket chest. If he had any illness, he drank elder-flower tea until he was well.”

By the time Joy was six years old, she was already helping in the family business. She could stem the cut flowers and put them on picks with wires. As she grew, she learned about the bounty of nature, not just from her parents, but also from her brothers and sisters. When Ernest, the eldest of the Logee children, put his thumbs between his teeth and gave a shrill whistle, the younger ones would come running because they knew that he had found a blueberry bush. “He knew all the swamps in the area,” Joy said. “We’d pick all day, and he helped me can them into the night. One night, we put up sixty quarts.”

Flower Passion

Ernest loved his father’s greenhouse, and when he took an interest in the florist trade, the business took off. In 1922, when Joy was eleven, the family rebuilt and expanded the original greenhouse, adding an office and more growing space.

Her mother died when Joy was young, but the family pulled closer together and continued their work with flowers. Joy was fascinated with plants. “I would comb the catalogs with my father. He said I could buy any seed I wanted. I had a deep interest in plants and their botanical names and history. I studied those catalogs for hours on end,” she recalled.

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