Thursday, December 18, 2014

Edison and Ford Winter Estates

My guess is that our readers have been so busy with Christmas preparations that no one has noticed that I have not posted on this site for about a week.  For John and I it has not been Christmas but family December birthdays which has kept us busy since we arrived in North Fort Myers a week ago.  Melissa and her son Nathan flew down from St.Louis on December 12th, which is her birth date.  My sisters Julia and Linda also came to visit us for the celebration of my birthday, which was the following day, the 13th.  Melissa and Nathan have stayed with us, so my excuse has been that it is a bit difficult to get to our computer.  John did manage to check our e-mail once.
 For me playing with our little grandson has been way much more fun than sitting at the computer.  As you can see in the picture above, he is a busy little guy!  Unpacking Mom's suitcase is so much fun.
We visited Edison and Ford's winter estates four years ago.  For that posting I focused on Edison's Botanical Laboratory and how he work with Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone to produce America's own emergency source of rubber which could be grown and quickly produced in the states.  For that project acres of research beds and raised gardens were started to grow plants which could be tested.
Pictured above is a sculpture of Mina Edison, which can be found in the estate's garden shop.  I mentioned in the previous posting of four years ago that Edison's wife Mina also played a part in establishing gardens in their estate, as her orchid lane.  She and her husband hired Ellen Shipman, a landscape architect, to design a garden and small pool to reflect the moonlight.  Moonlight gardens were popular during the early part of the 20th century.
Mina was influential in modifying Shipman's design to suit her own vision of a formal garden which also provided a casual area for guests to gather.  The tall flowering red bush in the left upper corner of the picture is a bougainvillea, a common plant of Florida.  Usually the flower is red, however I did find a pink bougainvillea on the estate.  We learned from our tour guide that the white flower of the plant lies inside of what is called a bracket.  Pictured below is a close-up view of the flower.  Part of the fun of touring the estates is seeing a wide variety of tropical plants and trees as the banana, allspice and coffee bean.  Fortunately for us, every plant is labeled.   My next posting will focus on the buildings of the estate.


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