Tropical Florida Gardens - What's in Bloom at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates?

Tropical Florida Gardens

What's in Bloom at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates?

Fort Myers: City of Poincianas?

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On May 31st

Royal poinciana blooming on the Edison Ford property in Ft. Myers.

Have you noticed the bright orange-red flowers adorning many trees in Southwest Florida lately? That’s probably the royal poinciana, Delonix regia, that you’re seeing. Did you know that these trees might have lined our beloved McGregor Boulevard instead of today’s royal palms?

Soon after Thomas Edison purchased his Fort Myers property in 1885, he sketched a landscape plan for the grounds, which was bisected by a dusty cattle trail that is now McGregor Boulevard. As you can read on the sketch above, he wrote, “Royal Poinciana shade trees both sides of street”. However, royal palms were planted at Edison’s expense starting in 1907. Additional royal palms were planted and currently extend about eight miles along McGregor Boulevard. Today, Ft. Myers is known as the “City of Palms” but had Edison been able to carry out his original plan, McGregor Boulevard might be lined with royal poincianas instead. Why the change? We don’t know for sure. But one theory is that while the royal poincianas are beautiful in full bloom, they usually drop their leaves during winter and don’t start blooming until late May. Edison and his family typically visited his Ft. Myers home during the winter, right when the royal poincianas look their worst, and he would have returned to New Jersey before the red blooms put on their show in late spring.

Close-up of the red flower of the royal poinciana, a common bloom in many trees in southwest Florida during May and June.

The royal poinciana is native to Madagascar, where it is endangered. It is a fast-grower and is accustomed to our poor soils and winter droughts. If you’d like one for your landscape, we have several for sale in our Garden Shoppe. For more info on selecting and caring for a royal poinciana, visit this page created by the scientists at UF/IFAS. If you don’t have room for a large tree, consider the dwarf poinciana, which matures to 15ft in height. We carry the dwarf poincianas in our Garden Shoppe as well.

Mother’s Day Flowers

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On May 5th

Instead of buying cut flowers this year, give mom a present that will live until next Mother’s Day! Our Garden Shoppe in Ft. Myers is full of color right now and we are sure to have your mom’s favorite. Our hanging baskets are bright and cheerful and packed with a variety of blooms. If you need something that can grow indoors, you can’t go wrong with an orchid. If mom is the planting kind, or has willing children (hint, hint), she might love one of every color groundcover we have in stock. Stop by our Garden Shoppe, open daily 9-5:30, seven days a week except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Partners for Plumeria

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On April 24th

‘Pompano Pink’ plumeria

Come meet some of the newest members of our garden: Princess Maria Tia, Maui Beauty, and Nebel’s Rainbow are three of 20 unique cultivars of plumeria, also known as frangipani, to join our landscape. They were planted at Edison Ford in late 2016 and early 2017 and serve as back up specimens in the country’s only National Plumeria Collection, based at the Naples Botanical Garden (NBG).

NBG earned the National Plumeria Collection distinction in 2011 from the Plant Collections Network, a program organized by the American Public Gardens Association and the USDA Agricultural Research Service. The NBG’s holdings include more than 580 species and cultivars of frangipani. In order to mitigate potential losses from a catastrophic event at NBG, sites like Edison Ford are hosting duplicate specimens of some cultivars.

Some trees in the collection are now blooming for the first time since being transplanted to Edison Ford. You can see them near our succulent garden, across the driveway from the Banyan Cafe.

Plumeria ‘Cerise’

Plumeria ‘Tillie Hughes’

Plumeria ‘Black Tiger’

Plumeria “Nebel’s Rainbow’

Butterfly Spotters Needed

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On March 28th

A monarch butterfly enjoying the pentas in the Estates Garden Shoppe. A lot of monarchs are attracted to the milkweed plants we have for sale.

For the first time, the Edison and Ford Winter Estates will participate in the North American Butterfly Association‘s (NABA) Annual Butterfly Count. We’ll need volunteers to help us complete the survey and we hope that you’ll consider helping us in the field! The butterfly count helps researchers monitor population trends throughout the USA, Canada and Mexico.

Teams of volunteer butterfly spotters will spread out in the Ft. Myers and Cape Coral area to count butterflies as part of NABA’s 42nd annual count. While an official date has not been set, we’re planning on a day in July.

On Saturday, June 10, our monthly Garden Talk will include butterfly identification and, depending on volunteer interest, we will have follow-up identification workshops before the official count day in July. If you’d like to volunteer to be one of our spotters, please leave a message for Britta at 239-334-7419. Want to get a jump start on butterfly identification? Search for online quizzes like this one from The National Wildlife Federation.

Blooms on the Street, March 2017

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On March 17th

If you’ve traveled through Southwest Florida lately, you’ve probably noticed a plethora of blooms in trees and home gardens. Here’s a look at what you might have seen and where you can find the ones you haven’t yet spotted. If you would love one of these plants in your yard, stop in our Garden Shoppe and take one home. Need some tips on planting and caring for your new tree? Register for our next Garden Talk, How to Plant and Establish Trees and Shrubs on April 8, 2017 at 10 am.

This list was compiled March 17, 2017 and is based on locations within the City of Ft. Myers. Let us know if there’s a showy flower you’ve been wondering about!

Yellow flowers:

yellow-tabSilver or yellow tabebuia, Tabebuia aurea – a tree native to the Bahamas, Caribbean and Central and South America. Like the related pink tabebuia, it produces trumpet shaped flowers. You can find several yellow tabs at the Edison Mall and there is a large tree in Jefferson Park. We have a young tree near Mina’s Moonlight Garden that was planted in honor of Berne Davis, a Ft. Myers philanthropist and garden lover.

Red flowers:

shaving-brush-tree-flowerShaving brush tree,  Pseudobombax ellipticum – a tree native to Mexico, Guatemala and Cuba. These aptly-named trees produce vibrant red clusters of stamens that resemble an old-fashioned shaving brush. We have two trees, both visible to the general public. One is just inside our east entrance gate off Marlyn Rd and the other is visible from McGregor Blvd between the Edison and Ford properties.

Orange flowers:

african-tulip4African tulip tree, Spathodea campanulata – a tree native to tropical Africa. It produces orange flowers that are lined with yellow and resemble tulips. There is a large tree in full bloom just south of the Ft. Myers Country Club on the east side of McGregor, just north of Jefferson Ave.

Purple flowers:

jacaranda3Jacaranda, Jacaranda mimosifolia – a tree native to Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Although the jacaranda’s flowers may be small, it makes up for it in sheer numbers. Some trees are ablaze in shades of purple this week. Check out the jacarandas in the medians along Cortez Blvd near Ft. Myers High School.

queens-wreath3Queen’s wreath, Petra volubilis – a vine native to Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. This popular vine’s flowers resemble wisteria, but is not related. We have it in Mina’s Moonlight Garden and on the pergola between Edison’s home and the guest house. Driving around Ft. Myers, you can see a great specimen on Woodford Ave. There’s also a nice queen’s wreath on a pergola overhanging the entrance to the Ft. Myers Lee County Garden Council building. Park near their entrance on Larchmont Ave and walk to the gate to see it.

White fluff:

silk-cottonIf you’ve spotted odd-looking puffs of white on the ground or oval-shaped pods of fluff in trees, those are the product of the silk cotton tree. There are several types of these trees within the Ceiba genus. Many of the trees had pink flowers earlier this year in the Ft. Myers and Naples area. Pick up one of the puffs from the ground and you’re likely to see a small black seed attached. You can get a close up look at the silk cotton tree if you drive by 2153 Larchmont, which is adjacent to the overflow parking at Edison Ford.

Stay tuned! There are sure to be many more beautiful blooms this spring!

 

 

 

Garden Talk: Attaching Orchids in Trees

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On February 28th

dendrobium-aggregatum4Join us for our next Garden Talk, March 11 at 10 am and learn about Florida orchids and how to attach them to trees.

Orchids are one of the most popular plants in the gardens and attaching orchids to the trees is a technique not new at the Edison Ford gardens. In the early 20th century, the Edisons and Fords explored the Everglades in a Model T, finding orchids in the swamps. Mina adopted the practice of planting orchids in the trees in the Edison gardens, and we continue the tradition today.

During the talk, we will demonstrate how to attach different species of orchids and how decisions are made for where they should be located. Included in this garden talk is a tour of the hundreds of orchids on the trees throughout the site.

Details: Saturday, March 11, 2017 at 10 am. Edison Ford Members $10; non-members $15. To register contact Leeanne Criswell, Edison Ford Program Registrar at lcriswell@edisonfordwinterestates.org or 239-334-7419. Wear comfortable shoes, hat, and sunscreen for a tour of the fragrant plants found in the Edison Ford Gardens. Participants will receive a 20% discount in the Garden Shoppe. Meet at the Information Booth (after checking in at the ticket counter to get your wristband.)

Upcoming Garden Events:

April 8 – Garden Talk: How to Plant & Establish Trees & Shrubs

May 13 – Garden Talk: Using Fertilizers & Amendments

Garden Talk: Fragrant Plants

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On January 13th

Jan 2011One of the best characteristics gardeners enjoy is the fragrance and sweet odors in the garden. Besides the beautiful flowers visible to the eye, scent allows our other senses to come alive. Our sense of smell operates a powerful reminiscence of memories in our brain. Interestingly, we remember how something smelled from the past when we smell that plant again. Often when in the garden, an individual will take a whiff of a flower here at the Edison Ford Gardens and respond fondly, “That smells like the flowers in my Grandmother’s garden.”

Start your own fragrant garden after touring and learning about the plants that grow well from some of the historical plants Mina Edison enjoyed. Wear comfortable shoes, hat, and sunscreen for a tour of the fragrant plants found in the Edison Ford Gardens. Participants will receive a 20% discount in the Garden Shoppe.

Date: Saturday, January 14, 2017. 10 am. Meet at the Information Booth outside the ticket office.

Cost: Edison Ford Members $10; non-members $15. To register contact Leeanne Criswell, Edison Ford Program Registrar at lcriswell@edisonfordwinterestates.org

Upcoming Garden Events and Talks:

February 11 & 12 – Edison Garden Festival (Free)

March 11 – Garden Talk: Growing Orchids in Trees

April 8 – Garden Talk: How to Plant & Establish Trees & Shrubs

May 13 – Garden Talk: Using Fertilizers & Amendments

Holiday Craft Using Items Found in Nature

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On December 20th
reindeer-craft

Reindeer craft made from sticks, acorns and seeds.

Need to entertain the kids for a bit during the holidays? Send them outside on a treasure hunt to make this simple but cute reindeer craft from sticks, seeds, acorn caps or other items from nature. All you’ll need is some glue, markers and a bit of imagination.

For the reindeer pictured here, I found everything I needed on the ground of the Edison Ford gardens. Seeing as we are five days from Christmas and it’s 81° F right now, this won’t be hard for those of you in south Florida. If you live in one of those cold places that we Floridians hear about on the news, you might have to wait for the snow to melt.

I collected a few sticks of similar diameter, the tops from two acorns that had fallen from a laurel oak tree and a bright red seed found in some leaf litter. I selected two branches that were bare at one end and had several smaller branches at the other end. I placed the two bare ends together to form a “V” and then placed a small bare branch a few inches above that. Once I had those in a position that looked good, I glued the sticks in place with Mod Podge®. I glued the seed at the end of the V to form a red nose. Using a black marker, I colored the acorn caps for the eyes. You may have to prop up the acorn caps or use some string to keep the V together while the glue dries.

If you can’t find a red seed, you could always color an acorn cap with black or red marker or paint. Warning: bright red seeds are usually a sign that they are poisonous. Don’t encourage kids to pick up any seed if you’re not certain that they can keep from eating it!

Share photos of your completed craft! What other Christmas characters or holiday symbols can you create using items from nature?

reindeer-craft-before

Stick, acorns and seeds before they were crafted into the reindeer.

 

 

How to Care for the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Plant, Brunfelsia grandiflora

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On December 8th
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The Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow plant with Thomas Edison’s home in the background in Ft. Myers, Florida.

One of the most beautiful flowering shrubs you can plant in Southwest Florida is also pretty easy to please. The Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Brunfelsia grandiflora, starts its show with a purple bloom that fades to lavender and then white over the course of a few days. And as long as you can provide some dappled sunlight and regular water, the YTT (as we sometimes call it) will provide years of enjoyment and create a conversation piece in your landscape.

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The purple, lavender and white flowers of the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Ft. Myers, Florida.

If you’re lucky enough to find one of these shrubs (hint: check our Garden Shoppe), select a location that is bright but not in the full sun all day. We have two YTT bushes in the gardens off the Edison and Guest Home porches and they receive quite a bit of full sun but do get some relief in the early and late parts of the day. For the most blooms, select a site that gets morning sun but is shaded later in the day. Water yours regularly until it is established and then check the soil above the roots on occasion, keeping the soil moist when possible. The YTT can tolerate some drought, but if it’s forming buds, you’ll get better blooms if you water during the dry season. Depending on the size of your plant when you install it, it might take two years or so before it produces copious blooms. You can try to encourage earlier blooming with fertilizer, like a 6-8-10 to help with roots and blooming, but it’s not necessary.

Our Garden Shoppe is full of native and tropical plants for sale, including the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Open seven days a week, it’s your one-stop-shop for your Southwest Florida gardening needs.

 

 

Unique Gifts from the Garden

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On November 15th

As you start making your list

and checking it twice,

you’ll soon remember

that holiday crowds aren’t nice.

So come to the Garden Shoppe

at the Edison Ford

Where we have lots of gifts

and no one ever gets bored.

No Black Friday camp-outs

No pushing or shoving

Just unique garden gifts

That everyone is loving.

From orchids to herbs,

soaps, ornaments or a book,

we have something for everyone

just come by and take a look!

The Edison Garden Shoppe is open daily from 9 am – 5:30 pm. Visit Edison Ford on November 19 or 20 and you’ll be here for our Garden Festival with hundreds of gift ideas from Florida plant vendors, artists, crafters and more. During Holiday Nights, the Garden Shoppe will be open from 9 am to 9 pm. Holiday Nights begins November 25 and runs every night except Christmas Eve and Christmas until January 1, 2017.

Poinsettias of all sizes, including these cute miniature plants.

Miniature plants and wreaths to brighten up any holiday. Stop by our Ft. Myers Garden Shoppe for unique gifts.

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Unique gifts in our Garden Shoppe and Museum Store in Fort Myers.

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Christmas ornaments and holiday decor for sale at Edison Ford in Ft. Myers.

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Large selection of gardening and botanical books in our gift shop at the Edison Ford in Fort Myers.

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Jellyfish Tillandsia ornament and a light bulb terrarium ornament with an air plant. Low maintenance plants that make your holiday decor come alive at Edison Ford in Ft. Myers.