Support Locust Grove by shopping its African Violet fundraiser sale, which is being held through February 3

Embrace local history and send a gesture of love to that special someone while supporting Locust Grove—a National Historic Landmark estate located in Poughkeepsie.

The 200-acre park-like estate, which overlooks the Hudson River, includes homes, a carriage house, ice house, trails, a flower garden, and vegetable garden. It’s also the site of an Italianate style mansion that was once home to Samuel F.B. Morse who invented the telegraph.

Local bloom

As Valentine’s Day approaches, many gift blooming bouquets of roses to their partners. According to the National Garden Bureau, the florist rose industry produces more than 1 billion stems a year in more than 30,000 acres of greenhouses worldwide.

However, this delicate bloom wasn’t always regarded as the traditional flower of America. During the 1890s through the 1920s, violets held the top spot. At the time, the Hudson Valley was renowned as the “Violet Belt.” 

The seeds for this thriving business were initially planted when British immigrant William Saltford imported violets for his flower shop in Poughkeepsie. His brother George later relocated to Rhinebeck and launched a violet business there. That business flourished and the violets were soon being exported around the globe. In fact, Rhinebeck was once referred to as “Crystal City” from the glare beaming off all of the greenhouses in Rhinebeck. 

Violets were also for the bloom of choice for Eleanor Roosevelt. At President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s inaugurations, the First Lady donned colorful corsages crafted from violets that hailed from Dutchess County.

The beautiful violets that grow on the grounds at Locust Grove.

Fundraising sale

Locust Grove is embracing local history by selling violets from Adams Greenhouses. Its fundraising sale, being held through February 3, is selling violets to generate funds to help keep Locust Grove open for the community and visitors to the region. 

Every year, more than 90,000 visitors, including thousands of local school children on educational field trips, enjoy the history and grounds of Locust Grove. Although the estate’s most famous resident is Morse, the estate’s previous owner Annette Young is credited for granting the public complimentary access to the miles of hiking trails, the heirloom kitchen, and cutting gardens. 

The African Violets from Adams Fairacre Greenhouses, which are being sold at the Violets for your Valentine Fundraiser

The violets 

Every violet plant offered via the sale comes with a message, which is printed on one of Young’s watercolors. The message reads: “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, I bought this from Locust Grove, Especially for you.”

“Violets have been growing wildly here for hundreds of years and were the harbinger of spring for the Young family who lived here from 1895 to 1975. We know this because Locust Grove Foundress, Annette Young wrote about their first sightings in her diary every spring from 1896 to 1970,” said Emily Ellison.

All of Young’s handwritten diaries still remain at Locust Grove. Interns and volunteers have been transcribing them for years. A simple search of the diary database for “violets” brings up hundreds of entries.

Valentine’s Day violets, which were painted by Annette Young, around 1920.

“While we have quite a few different violets at Locust Grove—some grow on the upper grounds, some along the trails, and some only in swampy areas—the one you’re most likely to notice are the common, ‘native blue violets.’ While sometimes considered a weed, we love their sweet purple flowers in early spring and we often transplant them from lawns to garden beds since they flower at the same time as our primroses,” said Claire Davis, Director of Horticulture, Locust Grove. 

Violets are also an important food source for the caterpillars of fritillary butterflies, which are often found in Locust Grove’s blossoming flower gardens during midsummer.

“For the fundraiser, violets were selected to honor the legacy of the Young family that loved them so, to honor the legacy of the Violet growers in the Hudson Valley, and to refrain from taking part in the cut flower/rose industry, which imports from Central America,” said Ellison. 

She explained that the health of the workers in Central America is compromised by toxic chemicals used on the plants. There’s also the toll that these shipments take on the environment when we consider the amount of fuel necessary to deliver them from Central America to New York.   

Via the fundraising sale, Locust Grove also wanted to support indoor growing. The African Violet, if treated with care, can prosper for decades. Ellison explained that one of the tour guides at Locust Grove has been growing an African Violet at home for more than 20 years. “We know that $20 for a 4-inch potted plant isn’t a bargain, but this is a fundraising event.”

The African Violets available for purchase hail from Adams Greenhouses in Poughkeepsie, NY. Adams worked with a Canadian-based grower to obtain its supply. The Canadian flowers are sturdier, easier to grow, and more successful as indoor plants than the native violets that are found at Locust Groveach spring.  The potted African Violets retail for $20 each (plus tax) for a 4-inch pot. Colors vary. Please note that specific colors cannot be reserved in advance and the violets available for purchase via this fundraiser are not native to Locust Grove. They are too fragile to cultivate in pots and they’re also out of season.  

To order the violets online, please visit:

If the pay pal link is not a direct link for folks to click on, then just direct them to the lgny calendar page please… or, or call 845-454-4500—from 10 am to 5 pm—to place an order.

The plants may be picked up at Locust Grove on Saturday, February 11 from 11 am to 4 pm. The address is 2683 South Road, Poughkeepsie.

Shop for a Cause

Locust Grove is an independent 502©3 not-for-profit museum, nature preserve, and education center. It does not receive funding from local, state, or federal governments.  

When the grounds are open from April through December, people are welcome to walk their dogs there, hike the former carriage road trails, or simply enjoy quiet contemplation in the gardens under the shade of 100-year-old trees. There are plenty of picnic tables and an enticing Museum Shop that sells accessories, books, ceramics, and other items created by artists and artisans that hail from the Hudson Valley. The Museum Shop is open daily, year-round from 10 am to 5pm.

The Violets for your Valentine fundraiser and public programs such as the  “What do your Flowers Say Today?” flower reading with Sue Adams on February 11 at 1:30, support Locust Grove and local business such as the Adams Greenhouses.

The Locust Grove Estate & Locust Lawn Farm
2683 South Road
Poughkeepsie, NY
(845) 454-4500