"I'm not really a career person.I'm a gardener,basically.".....George Harrison

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Back in May,while on vacation on Sanibel Island,I met up with a good friend and fellow blogger (Tink *~*~*,AKA My Mobile Adventures) to visit the Edison and Ford Winter Estates,in Fort Myers.I have been wanting to go there for years,but never got the chance.

This year,I made the chance.And all these years,what I had been missing!

After driving down McGregor Blvd.,thru the famous Royal Palm Trees that Edison planted in 1907,you come upon the estates.

Of course,you can’t miss the famous Banyan Tree,Edison received as a gift from Harvey Firestone,in 1925.


Until it was trimmed back,because of damage from the hurricanes in 2004,it was the largest in the world.Now,it’s the second largest,but it’s still damn big!


Somewhere in there is the original tree---it is marked---but I couldn’t find it.

After paying the entrance fee,getting our wrist bands and self-guided tour head sets,and sitting thru a little intro,we were led across McGregor Blvd.to the estates and the gardens.I kinda/sorta hitched a ride in the back of middle school tour---just act like a parent,it works!---so I learned a lot more from their tour guide. It was a beautiful day,but after talking with one of the docents,I realized the steady breeze,off the Caloosahatchee River,was not the norm.We lucked out.It was a gorgeous day.

Edison’s Seminole Lodge


Ford’s The Mangoes


The pergola was added in 1910,to connect the two houses.

The Poincianas were just finishing their show…


This allee leads from the back porch of Ford’s home down to the Caloosahatchee River.

You are allowed to roam the property.Even walk on the grass if you want to.Very few rules here.

One is “Don’t step or climb on the roots of the large trees

and the other is….




Most of the large specimen plants,Edison imported---yes,he imported nonnative invasives,but we forgive him---because he,Ford,and Firestone were looking for a cheaper way to acquire rubber .So,most of the plants are latex based.Edison was also looking for a cheaper filament for his new fangled invention-the light bulb.Believe it or not,he found Goldenrod worked best!---If it should ever come up on Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit,feel free to use it that little factoid.


Mysore or Brown Wooly Fig


Check out the root system….


Baby Rubber Plant


Variegated Rubber Tree


Common Bamboo-the noise these made,blowing in the breeze,was outstanding!Just like being in an Oriental garden.

The larger specimen plantings may have been planted by Edison,but the design of the gardens show his wife,Mina,had a strong say in how things should be.


The Lily Pond


The Cycad Garden


Red heart  the Cycad garden!

My favorite plant


Java White Acalphya wilkesiana from the Pacific Islands.

A White Orchid Tree


Bauhinia hookeri from Austrailia


And the orchids!


Everywhere you looked there were orchids…




These were growing in a Sausage Tree,outside of Edison’s Barn/Laboratory

and Vanilla,



growing in a Floss Silk Tree-Ceiba speciosa .

and Crinums…



Orange River Crinum Crinum bulbispermum

After moseying around for a few hours,we headed back across the street to the gift shop and garden shop.You know I didn’t come home empty handed….

I bought my Yellow Top,and some Rain Lilies(I lost mine when the County dug up the yard).I would have bought one of the Orange River Crinums,but I was running out of room in the Tacoma,and since YardBoy insisted on sitting inside the cab,and not riding in the bed,on the way home,the crinum must wait until the next time.

Not only are the Estates enjoyable for the gardener,but the history lesson they provide is wonderful.I cannot wait to go back.I didn’t even show you pictures of the swimmimg pool and the filtration system he designed.

The appreciation you acquire for the brilliant man Edison was is incredible.

But I think I will wait until early Spring.

When the gardens will be at their peak.

And the Garden Shop is worth the visit,alone.

You can pay an extra admission fee that includes a back stage tour to the nursery.The Garden Shop sells on line,and now they sell seeds!Prices are pretty reasonable for a private nursery such as this.I would imagine they have a larger selection in earlier spring.

Go!!!! Visit!!! Learn history!!!

Read more about the Estates here,and the Garden Shop here.




Tink *~*~* said...

LOVED this post! :) And I heart the bamboo lullaby too - such a soothing sound.

Tink *~*~*

Gayle said...

What a great adventure. Funny how we never seem to get around to visiting places that aren't so far away. I'm guilty, too, of not getting out and enjoying the beauty of Alaska.

Unknown said...

Do it,Gayle! What are you waiting for? You have such a beautiful state.You should enjoy it.
....While it lasts....

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Thank you for this wonderful, informative tour. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Wish we lived closer to this lovely place.


Jennifer AKA keewee said...

I would love to wander around there. What a fabulous place to explore, thanks for sharing.

Floridagirl said...

Oh my gosh! What a paradise! A vanilla orchid clamoring up a floss silk tree? Awesome!!! I have long wanted to go to Edison Estates just to see that old Banyan. Now I want to see it even more.


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