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?

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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’

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.

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?

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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.

 

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.

 

Scare Plants for Sale!

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 6th

20161006_124537Check out our newest arrival in the Garden Shoppe: little ceramic pumpkins with a Tillandsia air plant! Just a few inches in size, these “air” plants are perfect for your desk and will add a touch of the Halloween season to your space. Mist the air plant a few times a week to keep it healthy. After the holiday, transfer the plant to another houseplant or, if you live in a warm climate, a tree outside, to enjoy it year-round. Just $6 each in our Garden Shoppe at the Estates.

New Tour for Palm Afficianados

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 5th
Cliff Date Palm

Cliff Date Palm near the Moonlight Garden

Did you know we have more than sixty species of palms at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates? We just put together a self-guided tour with a map of the palms so you can find each one in our gardens. This is a free option with your paid General Admission to the grounds or with your Estates membership. Pick up a map at the Historian’s Desk in the museum.

 

Bottle palm

Bottle Palm