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?

Archive for the ‘heritage garden’ Category

Edison Ford Butterfly Garden

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On September 16th

Eastern black swallowtail croppedThis is a female Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes astarius), newly emerged from the chrysalis. She was one of a large number of caterpillars feeding on our dill and parsley in the Edison Ford gardens back in late June and early July. Unlike some of our local butterflies which normally remain in the pupa form for only around ten days, swallowtails often wait months before emerging as an adult butterfly.

Eastern Black Swallowtail larvae feed on a variety of items of the Apiacae family commonly found in herb gardens, including parsley, dill, fennel, coriander, and carrots. Mock Bishop’s Weed is a native to our area and is usually found in wetland areas, providing a native host for these beautiful creatures. Common Rue (Ruta graveolens) also grows well locally as a Edison Ford Butterfly gardenperennial and will serve as a host for the Eastern Black Swallowtail, as well as the Giant Swallowtail. Care should be used when handling rue as some people report skin irritation from contact with the foliage.

If you missed our September garden talk on pollinator gardens you can stop by anytime to see our butterfly garden and talk to our garden experts about options for your garden. Our gardens and garden shoppe are open seven days a week from 9:00am to 5:30pm.


Hypertufa Planters appearing at the Edison Estates

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On April 16th

hypertufa pots 001Come to the Edison Ford Winter Estates Garden Shoppe or The Edison Shoppes in Bell Tower both in Fort Myers, FL for Hypertufa pots and planters. Did you know the “Edison Portland Cement Company” in 1899 improved the production of cement with a special patented process we still use today? These containers are a fashionable way to show off a myriad of plant varieties. It could be succulents, orchids, herbs, or whatever your imagination inspires using these hand-made wonders. Two of our awesome volunteers have spent their winters when the weather is cool and dry making square and circular troughs-some with high sides and other with low sides crafted with portand cement, peat moss, perlite, and just enough water to expertly hold together yet amazingly lightweight. Some example of the plants either placed or planted inside the troughs cavities include: succulents, herbs, annual flowers, orchids, and even miniature fairy gardens. The aesthetics are one of a kind making the pots great gifts for that “got everything else kind of person!” The unique coarsely textured modern forms are fashioned to resemble antique troughs reminiscent of 18th Century Enhypertufa pots 004gland.

Growing Your Own Tomatoes

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On January 22nd

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by Debbie Hughes, Horticulturist

January is a great time to plant tomatoes in  raised beds or large pots in Florida.

Tomatoes have difficulty growing in the poor sandy soil laden with nematodes

(microscopic worms that eat the roots of plants), it is best to grow in amended organic

soils. Seedlings can be started in early August-October in peat

pots then potted into larger pots.  When the plants have grown to at least  1-2 feet in

height, it is time to plant in the amended soil.  Seedlings are also available for sale ready

to plant if you missed the seed stage.   Many varieties of cherry tomatoes are grown in Florida because they take fewer

days to mature, and are easier to just pop in the mouth.   Edison Ford Winter Estates sells heirloom seeds from Bakers

Heirloom Seed Growers or look for interesting seeds  from Tomato Growers Supply.  Look forward to eating varieties

this year of, “Snow White” , “Sun Gold”, and “Sun Sugar” during the springtime.



Garden Talk January 12

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On January 5th

Winter Edible Gardens

• January 12 – 9:00 a.m.

     Growing great edibles in the winter months in Florida gardens is not a mystery once you start. If you didn’t get your garden growing this fall, it is not too late to start now for a great harvest this spring. Join Edison Ford horticultural staff and learn how to create an edible winter garden. Cost: Edison Ford Members FREE; non-members $5. Participants will receive 20% off in the Edison Ford Garden Shoppe.




Garden Talk ~ Edible Fall Gardens

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 31st

● September 22 9:00 a.m.

     Edison Ford horticultural staff is planting this fall for a winter harvest in the organic vegetable garden, just as Edison’s staff did nearly one hundred years ago. Learn which vegetables thrive and how to grow your own garden at home. Includes tour of the Edison Ford demonstration garden.

     Cost: Edison Ford Members FREE; non-members $5. Participants will receive 20% off in the Edison Ford Garden Shoppe.


Edison Trials Garden Update

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 6th

Less than two months ago, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates began a ‘Trials Garden’ to gauge how well different varieties of Coleus and Caladium would fair in the Florida summer sunshine (read that post here: Come See the New Addition To Our Garden: The Edison ‘Trials’ Garden).

Take a look at the Trials Garden now!  Be sure to stop by to see these beauties in person in our Public Heritage Garden (no admission necessary) or pick up some of these varieties for your own home in the Edison Ford Garden Shoppe.

The Edible Garden

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 20th

by Debbie Hughes, Estates Horticulturist

The Estates has many edible plants this time of year, such as curcuma (turmeric), shampoo ginger, galangal, lemongrass, allspice, okra, eggplant, roselle, and pepper seedlings.  When the season cools down, the palette will change into more traditional herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, chives, rosemary, mints etc.

Once a gardener has made the decision to use a little piece of land to grow something useful, the fun begins.  Getting started is the hardest part, but don’t be dismayed.  Thomas Edison once said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration;” nowhere is this more evident than in the garden.  Consider starting an edible garden near your door for easy access in maintenance and utilization.  Besides, when you brush past the herbs, you can’t help becoming inspired by their enticing aroma.

There are some easy techniques one can employ to make growing your own herbs easier and become a genius in the kitchen.  One technique I have found successful for growing herbs is the mound or lasagna method.

A “No Till Garden” consists of:

  • layer of newspaper
  • layer of compost
  • layer of potting mix
  • layer of worm castings
  • last layer of food approved mulch

How to make your own Herb Mound

The hill can vary from 18” to 24” in height, allowing for planting room on the sides and top.  Mounds, raised beds, or container gardens allow less bending over, easing your back and knees.  Containers allow freedom to move the herbs where they may be the happiest depending on sun and water conditions.  Place the herbs near a hose or a rain barrel for easy watering.

If you would like to see an example of this type of garden, there is a demonstration for public view in the Estates’ Heritage Garden next to our newly dedicated Mina Edison Statue.  Come to the Garden Shoppe at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates during the week.  Our hours are 9-5 every day.  Estates Members receive a 10% discount on all Garden Shoppe merchandise.