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?

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.

Evening air heavy with Ylang Ylang fragrance!

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On September 8th

Last night after the heavy rain I rode my bike along McGregor Blvd and as soon as I got near the Estates, the air was thick with the scent of the Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) tree’s flowers.  The Ylang Ylang is near McGregor Blvd in front of the Edison guest house but the scent was traveling past the Ford home.  You may recall from a previous post that the fragrance of the Ylang Ylang is used to make Chanel No. 5.   If you live near the Estates, be sure to come by sometime soon to experience this unique scent!

Britta Soderqvist, Plant Curator

Summer Blooms: Ylang Ylang, Bangar Nut, African Pin Cushion

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 23rd

The ylang ylang tree at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates has finally started blooming! The oils of this flower are used to make perfumes such as Chanel No. 5, so you can imagine how fragrant it is.  The tree is close to the fence along McGregor Boulevard in front of the Edison guest house.   There are just a few ylang ylang trees available for purchase in the Estates Garden Shoppe.

The Estates is seeing encore performances from the bangar nut tree (Sterculia foetida) and African pin cushion (Sarcocephalus latifolius) this summer.  Both bloomed in May and are blooming again right now.  The bangar nut is known for its mothball-scented flower and the pin cushion has a unique flower that is sweetly scented.  The bangar nut tree is in the Estates research gardens behind the Banyan Café and the pin cushion is next to the public butterfly garden behind the ticket office.

Plant Spotlight: Ylang Ylang

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On September 10th

by Dick Dutton, Plant Curator

ylang ylang

Ylang Ylang Tree, Cananga odorata, Annonaceae

The Ylang Ylang is an evergreen tree around 30 to 45 feet tall with gracefully drooping branches.  It is often grown in the gardens of Southeast Asia and has yellow-green, highly fragrant, drooping flowers, which appear almost continuously on the leafy twigs.  The oil of the flower is used to make Chanel No. 5 perfume.

There are two mature Ylang Ylang trees at the Estates, both located near McGregor Blvd in front of the Edison guest house.  Area neighbors walk by the trees just outside the grounds and enjoy the beautiful, exotic fragrance of their flowers.

There are two other forms of the Ylang Ylang on the Estates grounds; a large vine by the pool and cistern and a dwarf scrub bush just inside the fence along McGregor on the Caretaker’s property.

If you are interested in enjoying the Ylang Ylang’s famous fragrance from home, the plant is available for sale in the Estates Garden Shoppe.  The trees for sale are propagated from seeds from the Estates’ own trees.