Wednesday, 27 January 2010

A great little "estate" in Florida

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.

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.

10 comments:

  1. Thank you for that lovely bit of sun, sand and surf. While a nice day it was still a January day in Washington state so that was a very pleasant little visit for me. ;-)

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  2. The plants, the sunshine the blue water, you would have to show us photos like this during the dark days of winter! Such luxuries. Lucky Mr. Edison.

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  3. The daily dose of green and growing is most appreciated -- here in Minnesota, we're snowed in and iced over . . . but I'm dreaming green! Thanks so much

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  4. Dear Charlotte, It is one of my great regrets in life that I have never visited the United States - all those hours in an aeroplane - but your pictures and writing here make me realise what I am missing. What a wonderful situation this house and garden must have, and I love the blue of those pots.

    Thank you so much for becoming a 'Follower' of my blog and for being such a generous supporter of my writing. I follow you with interest.

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  5. What a beautiful place. I am glad you were finally able to visit. I just love those blue pots...

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  6. It is a beautiful estate. I use to know people who lived in Fort Myers, I had for gotten that. Nice photos and thanks for sharing them.

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  7. Even an ugly garden in Florida would make a nice visit for me in January! But this one looks very nice. I can almost feel the warm, humid breeze on my face . . . no wait, that's just the humidifier for my sore throat :-)

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  8. Thanks for the history lesson. Here I am a neighbor to Florida and I didn't know about this place! The views are fabulous and the gardens are charming. An enjoyable post!

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  9. I visited this garden a few years ago and have fond memories...a few plants bought in the gift shop there are still growing in pots in my parents' house in Michigan and have grown quite large.

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  10. Lovely! We sure need some sun now. We've had snow for six weeks! That's not normal where I live / gittan

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