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?

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.

 

 

 

A Vine by Many Names is a Sweet Addition to a Southern Garden

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On November 9th
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Costa Rican butterfly vine, Dalechampia dioscoreifolia, for sale in our Garden Shoppe at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida.

What plant is related to poinsettia but vines and has colorful bracts like a bougainvillea but no spines? Its botanical name is Dalechampia dioscoreifolia, but it’s commonly known as winged beauty, Costa Rican butterfly vine, bow tie vine, and purple wings vine. If you’re looking for an interesting vine for your South Florida garden, consider this vine of many names.

It’s thin stems stretch up to twenty feet and will twine around most anything in it’s path. Each flower is surrounded by two purple pink bracts about five inches in length, which gives each bud a butterfly appearance. It thrives in full sun or light shade but needs a moderate amount of water to bloom regularly. It can tolerate some cold temperatures and might even bounce back from 20ºF temperatures with good care. Flowers might appear year-round but should at least bloom in summer and fall.

If you’re looking for other vines for your garden, check out this recent post. Visit our Garden Shoppe in Ft. Myers for winged beauty vine and a large selection of flowering plants, trees, vegetables and herbs.

 

Edison Ford Garden Festival 2016

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On November 5th

• November 19, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and November 20, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
garden-festival-nov-2016-updatePlant lovers, get ready! It’s that time of year for the annual fall Garden Festival! We are hosting dozens of vendors on-site from all over the state of Florida selling exotic and tropical plants and trees, garden art and gift items!

We’ve also stocked our Edison Ford Garden Shoppe with unusual, native and heritage plants that thrive here in sunny,
Southwest Florida. Plus, we’ll have gift items such as ceramic flower pots and garden art.

garden-festival-bromeliadsVendors will be selling palms, vegetables, bromeliads, hibiscus, butterfly plants, African violets, orchids, air plants, herbs, succulents, cactus and many hard-to-find species, as well as garden supplies and gift items, including mulch, trellises, pottery, cut flowers, hats and jewelry.

This event is for the entire family with numerous kids’ activities, including photo opportunities in a Model T Ford with Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Kids will be able to plant sprouts that they can grow at home, make corn husk dolls, get temporary flower tattoos and make Mod Podge votive candle holders with dried flowers.

The festival will also feature music and live broadcasts with 95.3 OLZ and Cat Country, refreshments and a specialty Edison Ford “Model Tea” beer, crafted with tea leaves by Bury Me Brewing of Fort Myers will be available for purchase.
Parking and admission to the Garden Festival is free (tours of homes, museum and lab are not included).

For more information call 239-334-7419 or visit www.edisonfordwinterestates.org.

garden-festival-november-2016-update

Golden Rain Tree: Pretty But a Potential Pain

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 28th

Many visitors of the Edison and Ford Winter Estates have noticed our trees with what appear to be salmon-colored flowers. In fact, these are the seed pods that followed yellow flowers of the golden rain tree, Koelreuteria paniculata, which started blooming in early October. While quite attractive in the fall, the seeds are plentiful and determined, with hundreds of new seedlings sprouting up wherever they fall.

In southern Florida, the tree is considered a Category II invasive plant, which means it has the potential to crowd out native species if not planted wisely. For example, planting a golden rain tree in a heavily landscaped suburban lawn is probably not going to lead to nuisance trees as the seedlings will be destroyed during lawn maintenance. However, planting one near wooded areas is not recommended as the tree is likely to spread into the natural landscape.

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Seed pods of the golden rain tree, Koelreuteria paniculata.

Stop by our Garden Shoppe and find flowering trees and other great garden plants for your yard. We will be starting some golden rain tree trees from seed, so check back in 2017 if you want one for your home.

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The salmon-colored seed pods of the golden rain tree.

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Golden rain tree with peach-colored seed pods over our Garden Shoppe in Fort Myers, Florida.

New Self-guided Tour: Plants in Your Cupboards

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 21st
Ylang ylang flower

Come find out how this flower is transformed into one of the world’s most famous perfumes on the Plants in Your Cupboard self-guided tour.

Ever wonder how cheese gets it’s orange color? Or how cinnamon is harvested? Or what a vanilla plant look like?

You can find out the answers to these questions and more on our new self-guided tour, Plants in Your Cupboards. The tour takes you to thirteen botanical sources of common household items (including the spice in Worcestershire and the scent from Chanel No. 5) right here in the Estate’s gardens. It’s free with regular admission and for members. Kids will enjoy discovering the plant source of items they know, like Vicks Vaporub and aloe. Ask for the tour brochure at the Historian’s Desk inside the museum. If you like palms, pick up a copy of our self-guided palm tour as well.