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?

It’s Almost Mango Season Here at the Edison Ford – Are You Ready?

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On May 16th

Todd Roy, Edison Ford Horticulturist & Garden Shoppe Manager

As I strolled through the garden Saturday I came across the first ripe Mango of the season.  The Southern Blush variety is an early season variety, but doesn’t disappoint on flavor.

The gardens at the Edison Ford contain over a dozen different varieties of Mangoes.  They range from early season to mid season to late season varieties like the Keitt Mango.  An early season favorite of mine is Bailey’s Marvel, a large Mango with great flavor, beautiful colors and very little fiber.  We also have a variety called Kent that is velvety smooth with no fiber and excellent flavor.  The local growers favor the Valencia Pride Mango, a large oblong shaped Mango with a sweet flavor.  If you’re a little tight on space, consider planting a dwarf variety like Pickering that can be kept at about six to eight feet tall.

Come down and visit our Garden Shoppe and see the many varieties of Mango and fruit trees we have available.  One of our horticulturists can explain some of the different Mango types and answer any questions you might have.

 If you’re looking for something to do with your mangoes, here’s a great recipe from my own kitchen:

Mango & Black Bean Salad

  • 1 15.8 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups mango, diced
  • 1 cup sweet red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup red onion,
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 seeded Jalapeno pepper, minced or hot sauce to taste (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:  Combine all ingredients, including beans in bowl. Toss and serve.

Related Edison Ford Blog Posts:  Mango Salsa Recipe, Mango Smoothie Recipe, Are All Mangoes Created Equal? Delicious Mango Varieties, Tips for Growing and Caring for Mango Trees, Tropical Fruit Trees That Grow Best in Southwest Florida

Tropical Fruit Trees That Grow Best in SW Florida

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On May 17th

The Edison Ford Winter Estates is the perfect starting place to learn about some of the many varieties of tropical fruit trees that will grow well in your SW Florida garden.  Our Garden Shoppe has a great selection of treesfor you to enjoy.

  • Mango– The Mango is probably the most enjoyed fruit worldwide. It has been planted in Florida for over 100 years, is a small to medium tree about 15 feet tall and produces fruit for a summer harvest. Valencia Pride is one of the more popular commercial varieties and a grafted tree will produce fruit in 3 to 5 years. Mangoes are high in vitamins A and C.   For growing tips & care, click here.
Mango Tree
  • Avocado – Avocado trees are a great selection for Florida gardens. They are a medium sized tree around 20 feet tall and come in an early, mid and late season variety. Plant all three and you can get fruit nearly all year long. Plant in well drained soil, as they don’t like wet feet. For planting & growing tips, click here.
Avocado Tree
  • Lychee – The Lychee is a native of China and Asia, but thrives in our SW Florida climate. Pine Island is a very large commercial producer with fruit arriving in late May through early July. A larger tree growing upwards of 40 feet tall, producing fruit after about 3 to 5 years and preferring well drained soil with some wind protection. For planting & growing tips, click here.
Lychee Tree
  • Carambola – Also known as Star Fruit, this tropical fruit is a great ornamental tree for your yard. They produce a large amount of fruit from July to September and again in November to February. They prefer well drained soil, a sunny location and some protection from the wind. They have a sweet, citrus-like flavor that is delicious in salads or a garnish in drinks. For planting & growing tips, click here.
Carambola or Star Fruit Tree
  • Papaya – These fruit trees are great for a smaller space in the garden, growing very upright and producing fruit in about a year from seed. Red Lady is a dwarf, self pollinating variety that is an excellent choice for the average home gardener. Papayas produce fruit all year long and have an excellent flavor. For planting & growing tips, click here.
Papaya Tree

While this is just a short list of the most common varieties, one thing holds true for SW Florida gardens: Our climate is perfect for growing!

Please visit our Garden Shoppe at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates to see our great selection of fruit and spice trees. Learn more about our gardens or submit questions to our staff on our web site at: http://www.edisonfordwinterestates.org/about/whats-blooming/.

Garden Puzzler Answer: Mango and pickle

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On January 21st

We finally have a winner to our garden puzzler:

This fruit’s name was once used as a verb describing a specific way to preserve food.

In the 1700’s, the word mango was used as a verb meaning to pickle.  For a time, anything pickled was called a mango, including peppers. Read an interesting account of the history of the word in America here.

As any visitor to the Estates knows, both the Edisons and the Fords loved mangoes.  It’s likely that mangoes were planted soon after Edison purchased his Fort Myers property in 1885 because by 1892, the caretaker of the Estate was already shipping mangoes to Edison at his New Jersey home.  By 1917, thirty mango trees were recorded on Edison’s property.  Most of the trees bordered the fence line along what is now McGregor Boulevard.  Henry Ford’s property, which was nicknamed The Mangoes because of the line of mango trees in front of the house, together with the Edisons’ mangoes, formed “Mango Lane”, a shady walkway that remains today.

Orchids in Bloom

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 11th

by Debbie Hughes, Estates Horticulturist

Ghost Orchid

I was fortunate enough last weekend to visit the strange Ghost orchid at the Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, FL.   The term “visit” usually describes catching up with an aunt or uncle, but this visit was more like a long lost friend.  A Dendrophlax Lindenii, botanically speaking, is a rare orchid native to South Florida composed of roots (no leaves) and an odd-shaped white petaled bloom spike.

To view the ghost orchid one had to squint through a scope. The orchid was perched in its roost, 300 feet from the boardwalk, high in the sky in an unsuspecting 600 year old cypress tree. I couldn’t believe my eyes; the orchid really existed!  My previous experience came up empty while hiking through the Fakahatchee Swamp in the Everglades years earlier.  I also discovered oodles of orchids attached to pond apple trees within naked eye view while strolling on the boardwalk.  Most people might not notice the orchids, mistaking them for tree parts.   I wonder what fate native orchids have in South Florida, as the numbers have dwindled throughout the state and the world since people began collecting them and developing the lands on which they thrive.

Every week, we attach orchids into our mango trees and other appropriate trees at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in what we call “Orchid Lane”.  Orchids were a favorite of Mina Edison; many horticulturists hunting the wilderness and friends worldwide sent her orchids.  There was even talk of the Edisons’ and Fords’ camping forays into the swamps bringing orchids home to their gardens.  The rough crevices of the bark make mango trees a perfect candidate for the orchid to establish a network of roots in.  The canopy also provides protection from strong winds and direct sunlight.

Laelias, Cattleyas, Cyrtopodium, Dendrobiums, Phaleanopsis, Schomburgkia, Psychopsis, Dendrophylax, Epidendrum, Oncidium, Encyclias, Brassavola, Vanilla, and everything in between reside in the loving arms of our tropical jungle.  We are a designated site for confiscated orchids through CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Since we receive many rare and not-so-rare orchids, we are able to provide a chance for the public to enjoy these beauties close up. 

Each month an orchid will find a reason to bloom and continue the cycle of life.  We have a Dendrobium that has bloomed continuously since I began work here in 2007.  Just come by and walk around the property; you will be amazed at the fun you will have discovering our hidden wonders.  During the year we offer an Orchid class for those who would like to learn about their care.   Stay tuned for more info about our amazing orchids throughout the year!

Dendrobium