From our Archives
April 1963

black and white photo of two people standing in a garden room
Photograph by Frank Claes, Cover by Robert Hambleton

Bonding Over Begonias

Illustration of waves
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From “Maine’s Merry Gardens” by George Taloumis, in our April 1963 issue.

With her enterprise already started in 1946, Mary Ellen Logee went home to Danielson, Connecticut, to attend a begonia meeting, for which the Logee Greenhouses, now operated by a sister and a brother, have become a well-known center. Also attending the meeting was a group of students accompanied by a professor from the Essex Agricultural Institute in Hathorne, Massachusetts. One of the students was a tall, soft-spoken young man named Ervin Ross, who was particularly interested to hear of Mary Ellen’s new greenhouse in Camden, because he was a native of nearby Lincolnville Center. He confided that he hoped to practice horticulture in his Maine homeland after completing his course as an ex-Navy man under the GI bill. “If you’ll come to Camden to see me when you’ve finished,” Mary Ellen said with interest, “perhaps by that time I can offer you a position.”

In telling the story, Mary Ellen laughs, “I never did give him a position, because he married me in April, 1947, just a year after I’d started Merry Gardens. With his savings ­— as much as my original investment — we built our first greenhouse in the fall, and from then on we’ve operated the business as equal partners.”

Mary Ellen and Ervin Ross operated their nationally recognized mail-order plant business for
54 years. In 1974, Mary Ellen founded Merryspring Nature Center, a 66-acre preserve and education center that still welcomes students and solitude seekers in Camden. She spent her final years in Connecticut, where her family still runs Logee’s, a 125-year-old plant supplier (favored by none other than Martha Stewart).

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