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?

August Garden Talk – Orchid Care

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 8th

● August 11, 9:00 a.m.

At one time the Edison family had the largest collection of orchids in Florida and today Edison Ford has hundreds of orchids throughout the site. Join Edison Ford horticulture staff and learn how to care for and tend to orchids.

Participants are encouraged to bring in their ailing orchids for tips and care for healthy orchid growing.

Edison Ford Members FREE; non-members $5. Participants will receive 20% off in the Edison Ford Garden Shoppe.  Registration not required.

Vendor space available at upcoming Garden Market

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 13th

Mark your calendars for our Garden Market, November 20 and 21, 2010.  Vendors will be selling many varieties of tropical and exotic plants (fruit trees, butterfly plants, orchids, etc.), garden art and garden supplies.  This event is FREE to the public and will be held at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates.

If you are interested in selling your garden-related wares, please contact Debbie Hughes at 239-334-7419 for more information.

Garden Market 2010

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.

Orchids in Bloom

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On April 12th

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates boasts a collection of over 350 orchids.  Take a peak at some that are blooming this month:

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!