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Gulf & Main Magazine

The Love of Gardening

Jan 31, 2024 08:00AM ● By Ann Marie O’Phelan

More than 60 plant vendors will have plants available for sale at the Spring Garden Festival on Feb. 10-11 at Edison and Ford Winter Estates. Image courtesy of Edison and Ford Winter Estates

Most know that Thomas Edison’s passion lay in inventing new things However, he and his wife, Mina, also loved plants and trees. Thomas was responsible for having the towering royal palms planted along McGregor, and Mina had hibiscus shrubs planted between the palms. 

“Today, when visitors enter through the white gate near the Edison house, they are greeted by large treelike, hibiscus standards along the walkway. Visitors can learn about both palms and hibiscus in upcoming gardening classes and talks,” explains Marketing and PR Director Lisa Wilson of the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers.

On March 9 at 10 am, the Estates offers a Garden Talk: Growing Fabulous Hibiscus. 

”The James Hendry Hibiscus Society president will be speaking, and we will have some rare hibiscus available for sale,” explains Wilson. 

Major species will be discussed, with emphasis on Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, known for their beautiful flowers. The cost is $15 for members and $20 for non-members. 

Karen Maxwell, horticulture specialist at Edison and Ford Winter Estates teaches gardening classes on multiple topics. Image courtesy of Edison and Ford Winter Estates

Those who are interested in palms would enjoy the Gardening Class: Palms in Your Landscape on February 20 at 1:30 p.m. or February 24 at 10 a.m. Students will learn about palms, the best choices for Southwest Florida, and how to properly care for palms. The last ½ hour of the program will be a tour and Q&A session in the Palmetum. The cost is $45 members and $60 for non-members.

This year’s Spring Garden Festival will be held on February 10-11, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Southwest Floridians look forward to this annual event, with over 60 vendors, plenty of plants for sale—such as butterfly plants, flowering exotics, fruit trees, herbs, Florida natives, and orchids. The festivities also include food trucks, live music, and more. Parking and admission to the festival is free. (Tours of the homes, museum, or lab are admission only). Guests are encouraged to bring a cart or wagon for transporting plants.  A designated plant holding tent and loading spot will be offered for anyone needing assistance.

The estates offer talks, workshops, classes, and events all year, including upcoming classes, programs, and a tea party in April. Check the calendar for details. Edison and Ford Winter Estates, 2350 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, 239-334-7419,

Ann Marie O’Phelan is a SW Florida resident and a regular contributor to TOTI Media.