Alluring Fragrant Gardens at Edison Ford Winter EstatesDec 13, 2022 08:00AM ● By Ann Marie O’Phelan
Many of our perennial plants will be blooming at the peak of our visitors’ season: Image courtesy of Edison Ford Winter Estates.
Walking through a garden with colorful plants and various textures ignites even more of the senses when scented plants are blooming. The Moonlight Garden at Edison & Ford Winter Estates - 2350 McGregor Blvd, Fort Myers, FL offers an abundance of flowering plants and greenery, along with a 1929 reflection pool, designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman—right outside the doors of Thomas Edison’s study. It’s also a great place to enjoy the winter aroma of several scented plants that are blooming right now in the garden.
Scented plants have been shown to positively impact one’s health by reducing stress, fighting depression and inflammation, and inducing sleep. Some of the scented winter blooms that grow in the gardens are the Lightbulb Clerodendrum, and the night-blooming jasmine, Lady of the Night. Although this jasmine may be difficult to see due to small, dainty flowers on a towering shrub, it’s evening scent is unmistakable. Depending on the winter month and weather, Angel Trumpet will bloom during the day, though its fragrance is most pungent during the evening.
“Gardenias should be coming into bloom in March, as well as our roses, including Rosa Iceberg. It’s also possible to catch a bloom cycle of the Chinese Perfume Tree, and the range of color from the bougainvillea can be a showstopper this time of year,” said Karen M. Maxwell, Horticulture Specialist, Florida Master Gardener, Florida Master Naturalist, Horticulture Writer, Garden Manager Moonlight Garden at Edison Ford Winter Estates.
In the evening, the true objective of a Moonlight Garden is best appreciated.
“The dark green plants disappear into the night, and the moon glow highlights evening bloomers, which attract night-time pollinators with an intoxicating fragrance and white flowers,” Maxwell added.
Upon entering the Moonlight Garden from the Southeastern gate, one’s attention is immediately drawn to the coquina chimney with a sprawling queen’s wreath vine scrambling towards the top.
“Though unscented, the Queen’s wreath offers panicles of lavender or white flowers and was a favorite plant of Mina Edison and an integral portion of her preferred color palette of white/blue/lavender,” Maxwell said.
Much of the hardscape design of the Moonlight Garden features Arts and Crafts elements, particularly the original ten-foot-tall lattice and trellis enclosure upon which the bougainvillea would climb.
Thomas and Mina Edison both enjoyed spending time in The Moonlight Garden. It was a quiet place to pass the time and an area to experiment with different species of plants.
“Mr. Edison could enjoy his favorite cigar under starry nights filled with scented blooms to cap off a long day of work in this space, and its private setting gave Mina a chance to dabble in the gardens – something that a ‘lady of means’ would never be actually seen doing back in the 1930s,” Maxwell explained.
Many of the plants that grow in The Moonlight Garden are available for purchase at the Garden Shoppe, open seven days a week. Over 70+ vendors will be a part of the Spring Garden Festival, February 11-12, 2023.
“This year, there will be additional activities over the weekend as February 11th will be the 176th Anniversary of Thomas Edison’s birthday,” Maxwell added.
Find out more at https://www.edisonfordwinterestates.org
Ann Marie O’Phelan is a SW Florida resident and a regular contributor to TOTI Media.