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Buell's Greenhouses in Connecticut?

Posted by patrick888 z8 SeaTac WA (My Page) on
Mon, Jun 13, 11 at 16:04

Do the Buell's Greenhouses in Eastford, Connecticut still exist? I read that Albert Buell passed away about 2 years ago and saw another reference that spoke of when he used to own the greenhouses. So, I'm wondering if they're still in operation, perhaps under another name?

I have their catalog that dates back 45 years...have drug it around with me wherever I lived, all these years. If gesneriads are still coming out of those greenhouses, I'd love to see today's catalog - printed or web site.

TIA for any info you can share.

Patrick


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Buell's Greenhouses in Connecticut?

As far as I know Mr.Buell went out of business long long ago, probably soon after the time of your catalog. On a Gesneriad Convention in 2009 as far as I remember his son was accepting an award from the Society for his father for his great contribution in founding the American Gloxinia and Gesneriad Society, now The Gesneriad Society.

You own a piece of history!

I would think that these specialized businesses exist on love and enthusiasm of the owner, there is no big money there, and when the owner is getting older and cannot work as hard, the business closes.

Irina


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RE: Buell's Greenhouses in Connecticut?

Thanks for the information, Irina. My catalog has been perused many a time, especially in the 1960's when I was young and quite amazed by such exotic plants. It's rather well used, but still in decent shape.

It's fun to look at the prices...African Violets were $1.50 apiece, but discounted to $1.00 if ordering at least 4...and the special: 11 plants for $10. There were no fees for shipping and handling...but it did cost $.50 extra per plant if you wanted Air Mail!

The various other gesneriads were $2.00 apiece, or $1.50 if ordering 4 or more.

The verbiage of the 60's reads so differently from today's text. Nothing like a walk down memory lane!

Patrick


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RE: Buell's Greenhouses in Connecticut?

Patrick -

it is so true - I have several old "Gloxinian" magazines from these times - and enjoy reading them. Probably these $1.50 a piece were more like $30 nowdays. And old members of the club still remember the times when they got their very first awards - it sounded like "Mrs Robert Jones got an award for the best florist gloxinia" - and an award was probably a nice teapot. Now we do not even know the names of the club member husbands.

Irina


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RE: Buell's Greenhouses in Connecticut?

Patrick, sorry to say Buell's closed down sometime in the 90's. I live in CT and went to see if Mr. Buell's greenhouses were still open. When I was a teen and in my mid twenties I used to go there every weekend to browse thru the 7 greenhouses he had. The violets, gloxinias, Episcias and other gessies he had were fabulous. I used to spend hours talking to him about how to grow, what dreams I had I hybridizing different plants to create an orange violet. ( which I found out he was right, couldn't be done, but when your young and dumb you think you know everything!) I enjoyed those
times immensely! He also used to let me pick from his blueberry plants! That was a rare treat and believe me not many people were
allowed near them, let alone anyone knew he had them. The berries
were the size of dimes!
The biggest reason the business declined was sales. He told me in their
heyday they used to supply many major stores. One of them was S.S.
Kresge's. I used to see his violets there as a kid. Over the years he lost
many accounts due to Canadian suppliers selling plants for as little as 5
cents cheaper. As Mr. Buell explained to me there is a point when you
can't reduce the price any further and still make enough money to cover
your costs. Fortunately their name and quality of plants and their pensions (his wife was a former school teacher) kept them going for quite a few years.
In the mid eighties the state EPA sited him for several environmental violations over the burning of waste oil from what he told me he had a permit issued by the state which allowed him to. Many years he tried to work with the state and finally closed the doors in 1996 from what records I can find. It must have been around that time I went up to pay my last visit. When I arrived the greenhouses were still there but empty. The entrance door was open and people were inside cleaning out what was the sales office and register area. I later found out by Google that the property was put on the Superfund cleanup site for contamination of PCB'S and other heavy metals. In 2007, the Federal government has since ended it's involvement in the property and is now under the state's care for clean up.
I can not confirm any of the allegations the state had against Mr. Buell's operations. However, Mr. Buell was a man an honest man and a man of character. I had the privilege of knowing this man for many years and never was he ever accused of or did I see him ever do anything outside of the law. He operated his business with the utmost integrity and the Lord blessed both Mr. & Mrs. Buell for their efforts. They provided many years of quality plants, were ambassadors for the AV world and were two of the most humblest,friendly people you could meet. Their last few years in business they ran the business at a loss, using their pensions to keep the business afloat.
Hold on to the piece of history you possess. It is a priceless remembrance of these two outstanding individuals and their contributions to the Violet and Gessie world which can never be duplicated again.

Dave
In CT


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RE: Buell's Greenhouses in Connecticut?

Wow - what a tribute to this wonderful man!


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RE: Buell's Greenhouses in Connecticut?

Isn't that some wonderful information to know about a man who contributed so much to the AV and Gesneriad world? What memories for Dave to treasure.

And Dave, "never say never" re the orange AV's! If people keep trying, you never know what might happen. In Brugmansia, the goal is to achieve purple or blue blooms. It's expected to happen one day.

Patrick


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RE: Buell's Greenhouses in Connecticut?

Awesome story. I just stumbled on this forum. I'm frequently on the African Violet and Hoya forums. I just got some episcia and sinningia starter plants in a RR and now another addiction is in the works. LOL. I will be lurking here, trying to read all the old posts.


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RE: Buell's Greenhouses in Connecticut?

Irina, you are absolutely correct. I did a little research and Mr. Buell's son did accept the award in 2009 on behalf of his father. Mr. Buell died in April of that year. He was 91 when he passed away, living for quite a few years in a nursing home in Danielson prior to his passing. His wife Diantha, passed 10 years earlier in 1999.

Here's an exerpt from his obituary,

Albert owned and operated Buell's Greenhouses in Eastford for over 60 years and was a charter member of the American Gloxinia and Gesneriad Society. He had his own strain of Hybrid Gloxinias he developed. He was a member of the African Violet Society of America and held the office of Commercial Chairman for over 25 years. Albert traveled and lectured across the United States and Canada and wrote several publications on growing gloxinias.

The list goes on about his commitment to his serve his community as well. He and his wife will not be forgotten anytime soon in the Eastford area nor with the many lives he touched beyond, including mine.

This was just one of many awards this man truly deserved. May the others be presented to him before God for all the wonderful service he has done over the years to touch other people's lives.

Dave


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RE: Buell's Greenhouses in Connecticut?

I'm a new poster on this forum, and when I saw the topic, I read all the older posting with great interest.

The first time that I decided to grow houseplants, and specifically Gloxinias, was because I saw a beautifully grown plant of Emperor Frederick in a nursery. I went to the library and took out a book by Peggy Schultz and learned that better Gloxinias existed, and to make a long story short, I discovered the Buell's. I was probably no more than 15-16 years old at the time.

I saved some money and sent for tubers for a slipper Glox. named, I think....Mont Royal. It was pure white with a blood red throat. I grew this plant on top of my bedroom radiator, under a cheap set of Gro-Lux fluorescent lamps. Steaming heat, in full sun, and misting when ever I thought about it. The plant grew poorly, but produced tons of perfect flowers, and thousands of fungus gnats. I joined the Gesneriad Society, and marveled at all the beautiful hybrids developed by others, and especially by a lady named Iris August who introduced "August Snow" a pure white florist Glox. But that was then, and this is now.

I really enjoyed my innocent, early days of plant growing successes, and failures. I'm now 61, and have been growing plants ever since. I owe all my botanical pleasures to the Buell's.


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RE: Buell's Greenhouses in Connecticut?

I remember the name 'Mont Blanc' and looked in my old catalog. I found it listed and even found a piece of paper I put in the catalog with that slipper gloxinia's name on it...a cultivar I wanted, but never ordered. Looks like we've shared this interest for nearly the same number of years.


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RE: Buell's Greenhouses in Connecticut?

I remember Mr. and Mrs Buell as kind and generous people. They certainly were dedicated to what they were doing. I worked part time at the greenhouses in Eastford for a little while. They grew the most beautiful violets and other gessies. It was something special to see the show plants they would grow. I remember that we would laugh when we would try to guess what it was that Albert was burning in his boilers. I can still remember walking though the houses. Good memories. I think they had 3 or 4 houses in Putnam. I was there once. They grew most of their glox there.


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RE: Buell's Greenhouses in Connecticut?

An update on Buell's greenhouses. I recently met over this forum a relative of Albert Buell. When I started talking to him about the greenhouses, he told me there was a fire about 25 yrs ago. So I looked it up on google and sure enough, there was a fire in November 1994 that destroyed the furnace room and all but two greenhouses! Many of the plants were lost in the fire and Albert had 2nd degree burns on his hands as a result. After the fire, Albert never restarted the business.

Dave


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RE: Buell's Greenhouses in Connecticut?

Great update, Dave. Thanks so much for that. Remember Paul Harvey on the radio? I feel like this is the point where we'd hear him say "And now you know....the REST of the story!"

I joined the Gesneriad Society effective June 1rst and the annual convention was held here in Seattle during the week of July 4th. I attended most of the presentations by guest speakers and was especially interested in one about Tissue Culture. Everyone attending was presented with a plastic vial containing tissue culture material from 1 of 4 Kohlerias. I didn't know them by name, but ended up choosing one named 'An's Nagging Macaws'. When I checked it out later on the computer, I was quite happy with the choice. It looks like there is a mass of minute plantlets in there & some have started to grow nicely. In a few more weeks, I'll be able to pot some up.

Of course, one can't attend a convention with a plant show & sale without buying some plants! I bought 4 small plants, some cuttings & some seeds...I focused mostly on Mini Sinningias and Kohlerias, but my purchases also encompassed Episcias, Columneas, X Achimenantha, Smithiantha & Microchirita. Just 2 days ago, I planted 9 batches of seeds. I have some rhizomes to get planted and I should be set until it's time to transplant seedlings. I've been shopping for glass containers suitable for terrariums to grow & display some of the tinier plants in. I can see at least 1 more lighted plant stand in my future!

Patrick



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RE: Buell's Greenhouses in Connecticut?

Irina and anyone else here on the forum, I am in the process of collecting any information anyone may have on Buell's Greenhouses. Pictures, newspaper articles, magazine articles, etc. My intention is to create a website tribute to the Buell's and their contributions to the Gessie and AV world. We are coming up to Mr. Buell's 5 yr. anniversary, he passed away in 2009. I am also going to contact his son to see if he can help me with information. Rick, if you have anything you can share please contact me! I believe this is fitting way to remember all the Buell's and others have done for the AV world and for the Gessie world in general.

If this goes well, I will be including others like Frank Tinari, etc.

If anyone can send pics of old catalogs, etc. please email them to:

4davioletman@gmail.com

Thank you for your help,
Dave


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