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

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.

Botanical Tours on Tuesdays & Fridays at 10 AM

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On September 17th

Beginning October 1, 2010, the botanical tour at The Edison & Ford Winter Estates will be on Tuesdays and Fridays at 10 AM.  This tour includes a walk through the historical gardens of the Edison and Ford Estates with a behind-the-scenes tour of the Estates Propagating Nursery.  The tour is never the same twice as it changes frequently to highlight plants currently blooming or fruiting.  With the change in flowers and fruits comes a variety of aromas for tour goers to experience, from Chanel No. 5 to buttered popcorn to bubblegum.  Participants will learn about the historical and cultural significance of the plants, including the world famous banyan tree, the 90-foot kapok tree, and the sausage trees. 

During the botanical tour, visitors will learn why Thomas Edison purchased his Fort Myers property in 1885 and how he and his family developed the landscape over the years.  Edison’s original design for his winter estate included areas for a research laboratory, family gardens, and work areas.  Each of these areas is visited on the tour and the relevant history is detailed.  Several trees that were planted during Edison’s time still stand and garden features, as well as Mina’s Moonlight Garden, which have been carefully restored to reflect the look, feel and scent of the historic landscape, are visited.

The Estates gardens contain more than 1,700 plants representing more than 400 species from six continents.  The collection includes tropical fruit trees such as mango, citrus, papaya and sapote, as well as orchids, bamboo, bromeliads, cycads, and more than 50 species of palms.

“Whether you are an avid gardener, are just starting your own garden, or simply have an interest in botanicals, the Estates tour is a must-see for Southwest Florida gardeners,” says Britta Soderqvist, the Estates Plant Curator.  “On the tour, you will get an up-close look at thriving fruits, flowering plants and palms that can be easily grown in our area, as well as the opportunity to ask questions about Florida gardening.”

The Estates Garden Shoppe is open daily from 9 AM – 5:30 and offers a variety of heritage plants, herbs and other tropicals for purchase. The cost of the botanical tour is $24 for adults, $10 for children 6-12, and FREE for Estates Members.  Visitors may upgrade their ticket for $6 to include a self-guided audio wand tour of the historic buildings and museum. Group botanical tours are available at a discounted price and may be scheduled throughout the week based on availability.    To schedule a group botanical tour call the Estates at 239-334-7419.

Name That Plant, Win That Plant XII Answer: Tamarind

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On September 15th

Tamarind, Tamarindus indica


Did you know you can grow one of the ingredients in Worcestershire sauce right in your backyard?  The fruits of the tamarind tree are used throughout the world in chutneys, drinks, candy and sauces.  In the US, tamarind is sometimes used in barbeque sauces and can be found in sweetened drinks available at ethnic restaurants and stores.

Although native to tropical Africa, this tree is now grown worldwide.  In Florida, it is rated for zones 10-11, may grow up to 90 feet, and will be evergreen except during long droughts.  Our horticulturist, Debbie, loves the weeping form of this tree and says the tamarind makes an excellent shade tree.  Flowers are produced in the summer and the fruits that follow may hang on the tree for several months.   Our tamarind tree is next to the friendship walk on the Edison property.  It is flowering now and produced more than 50 fruits last year, even though it was planted just six years ago.

Our friends at the University of Florida extension service compiled a few recipes for tamarind, including “Tamarind Chicken with Mangoes”.   Lucky for you, our Garden Shoppe sells tamarind and mango trees.  Sorry, no chickens.

Britta Soderqvist, Plant Curator