Photograph by Frank Claes, Cover by Robert Hambleton
Bonding Over Begonias
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).