In 1920 when my father, Martin Viette, was only 16 years old, he left his family in Switzerland and came to America. He apprenticed at ‘Cedar Hill’, Theodore Havemeyer’s estate in Brookville, Long Island, New York. Mr. Havemeyer worked with the famous French hybridizer, Victor Lemoine of Nancy, France. Martin Viette learned the art of gardening so quickly that he was often loaned to other estate owners to design and establish gardens. When he started his legendary nursery on Long Island in 1929, he served estate owners and suburban gardeners.
Martin Viette hybridized the beautiful Phlox paniculata ‘Katherine’ between 1922 and 1925. This phlox, named after Katherine Havemeyer, disappeared during the 1960’s. Luckily, the late Fred McGourty rediscovered Phlox ‘Katherine’ in an old estate garden in Connecticut during the 1970’s. Today, we continue to hybridize perennials and have selected a sport from Phlox ‘Katherine’ which is not yet named. Martin Viette also hybridized and named Papaver orientale ‘Cedar Hill’. Both Phlox ‘Katherine’ and Oriental Poppy ‘Cedar Hill’ remain top varieties still today.
Three years before Pearl Harbor, my father introduced Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ to America from Yokohama Nurseries in Japan and in 1952, he introduced Polygonatum multiflorum, the European Solomon’s Seal from the Homestead Nurseries in Holland.
During the 1960’s, Martin Viette introduced the Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum') to the nursery trade from the gardens of Alex Summers on Long Island.
Martin Viette had a great love for daylilies and hybridized with Dr. Arlow Stout’s first hybrids. My sister Mary Lou and I were hybridizing daylilies when we were just 5 and 7 years old. Since that early time, the Viette family has been collecting and hybridizing daylilies and we have introduced many named varieties. Daylilies have come a long way from those early years.
In 1976, I moved my family and nursery to my beautiful Shenandoah Valley farm in Fishersville, Virginia. I invite you to visit my farm and nursery where I have surrounded my home and garden center with extensive display gardens of all kinds. Spend some time wandering through my gardens and get some ideas for your own landscape. Our garden center is well stocked with perennials and annuals, including some of the best daylily and hosta varieties grown today.