When Thomas Edison first purchased his property in 1885, a dusty cattle road ran through the middle of the property and cows roamed freely while cowboys bunked in what is now called the Edison Caretaker’s House. Today the cattle road is McGregor Boulevard, a two-lane street lined with royal palm trees. The landscape has changed, yet today reflects the years of hard work and a love of nature that Edison and his wife, Mina, shared.
Thomas Edison’s original design for his winter estate, as illustrated in his hand drawn plan from 1885, includes areas for a research laboratory, family gardens, and work areas. His design was geometric, dominated by wide alleys or avenues and an east west path connecting the areas on either side of McGregor Boulevard. Edison’s plan was a practical one; not as much a design for formal gardens as it was an evolving family and research garden plan oriented to their changing interests.
Edison’s initial interest in the property was spurred on by the presence of bamboo, which he used in his light bulbs. However, by the late 1920’s, Edison and his Fort Myers gardens had garnered worldwide recognition for rubber research. Most of the property on the east side of the boulevard was dedicated to growing thousands of experimental plants from 1928-1935.
The grounds on the west side of the boulevard were primarily dedicated to growing plants of personal interest. Since the homes were an idyllic retreat for one of the world’s most famous people, a lot of trees and shrubs were planted to provide privacy for the inventor, his family and guests. Many of these plants also provided fruit for the family to enjoy, sell in the downtown market, or ship north to friends. Both Thomas and Mina loved nature, and many flowering plants were included in the landscape to attract birds and butterflies. Orchids, roses, and palms were also of great interest to the Edisons and many varieties and species can be seen today.
Estates Garden Shoppe open daily 9AM - 5:30PM.
Edison Ford Garden Tours offered every Wednesday at 10:30AM.
For more Estates Gardens information contact the Estates Horticulturist at 239-334-7419!
Donate a Tree for the Historic Landscape
As the Edison & Ford Winter Estates restores the botanical gardens of the historical property, we invite you to commemorate your marriage, celebrate the birth of a child, or honor a passed away loved one by planting a tree in the gardens or sponsoring a memory bench.
For more information, and a current list of available trees, visit Celebration Tree Plantings.