A great little "estate" in Florida
And all this perched on the edge of the river, where you can watch paddle steamers like the one above. A great day out you certainly won't be disappointed. We really enjoyed our visit.
It's taken me several years to get to the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida, but I finally made it today!! It's a charming property - not what we'd call an "estate" by English standards - but well worth the visit if you want to see a slice of life gone by, some magnificent palm trees (above) and cycads (below), and sit by the Caloosahatchee River admiring the views.
Thomas Edison, the great inventor, first visited Fort Myers in 1885. He was already well-established as an inventor and wanted to find a property that would allow him to escape from the brutal winter months in New Jersey. The story goes that he bought the 13-acre plot within 24 hours of arriving in town and went on to build a house for himself and a guest house that stand on the site today. All the materials had to be brought down the river because there was no road system at that time.
With views like the one above, looking down Edison Pier, it's hardly surprising that when his friend - Henry Ford - came to stay some 20 years later, he immediately bought the plot next door. Today the two properties are a Florida Historic Landmark, which have been fully restored, surrounded by gardens filled with interesting trees and plants.
The Moonlight Garden (above) is charming, with its blue pots and central pond. It is a tiny little haven designed by renowned female landscape architect Gertrude Biddle and is accessed from Edison's office. And it's just one section of the gardens that will catch your eye - elsewhere there are many fine plants - all meticulously labelled - and many trees including a splendid selection of palms; the largest banyan tree in the US; and other tropical collections including cycads, with their extraordinary fruits.