FORT MYERS, Fla. (October 13, 2021) -- Edison and Ford Winter Estates is offering free admission to United States veterans on Veterans Day, November 11. Free admission includes a self-guided tour of the historic homes, gardens, laboratory and museum. To receive free admission, veterans must present a VA identification card or their DD214 papers. As a special treat for veterans, a five-piece brass band from Brass Music Elements will perform at the Banyan tree from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
With admission, families can view the "Birds of Southwest Florida" exhibit in the Caretaker's House, which features multiple illustrations from John James Audubon, along with quotes from the Edison and Ford families. The 15,000-square-foot museum is filled with hundreds of Ford's and Edison's inventions; numerous examples of phonographs (Edison's favorite invention); antique cars, including Edison's personal 1916 Model T; and the Timeline of Innovation, a chronological timeline of both Edison's and Ford's inventions.
Another highlight is the botanic research laboratory, a National Historic Chemical Landmark. In the lab, visitors get to see original test tubes and machinery that Edison used to test more than 17,000 different plants in his quest to find a natural source of latex. Some of the trees and plants that were tested are still on the property today.
In the gardens, visitors can see hundreds of trees and plants from all over the world. Because of the warm climate, many plants bloom during the fall and winter months when visitors and snowbirds are in the area. The botanical gardens consist of 20 acres with more than 1,900 plants from 750 different species -- not counting short-lived plants. There are also 300+ species of ornamentals, 170+ species of non-fruiting trees, 85 species of fruit trees, 14 species of citrus trees (not including the new plantings on the Ford property), 20 species of ficus, 97 species of palms, 17 species of bamboo, 20 species of cycads, 43 types of vines and 35 Staghorn ferns.
The site is also home to five trees on the official Florida Champion Tree Register, which recognizes the largest known tree of each species in the state. The five champions include a Buddha Coconut (Pterygota alata) growing in the research gardens that stands 85' tall; the King or Alexander Palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae) is located near the Moonlight Garden and stands at 66’ tall and 40” in circumference; the Blue Mahoe (Talipariti elatum) is 59’ tall and 133” in circumference and is growing near the pier; the Indian Coral Tree (Erythrina variegata) is 35’ tall and 114” in circumference and is located near the Edison guest house; and the Puerto Rican Hat Palm (Sabal causiarum) is 45’ tall and 89” in circumference, and stands near the Edison caretaker’s house.
Throughout the site, there are several areas of defined specialty gardens, including the Moonlight Garden, filled with white flowers and a reflecting pool; Clara Ford's Rose Garden; the Succulent Garden, with an Agave plant that was an offspring from Thomas Edison's plant; a shade garden; a butterfly demonstration garden; and an area dedicated to Florida native plants.
Listening to the historical narration on the app, visitors can learn about two of America's most famous inventors within a botanical garden setting. The site is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. seven days a week. For tour times, tickets or additional information, visit the website at www.edisonford.org or call 239-334-7419.
Edison and Ford Winter Estates
Edison and Ford Winter Estates is the internationally known winter home site of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. More than 220,000 visitors walk through the location each year from all around the globe. The organization has received many awards, including the National Stewardship Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Garden Clubs’ Historic Preservation Award. The property is an official project of “Save America’s Treasures," a Florida Historic Landmark and a National Register Historic Site. The Edison Botanic Laboratory is a National Historic Chemical Landmark. The site is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and until 9 p.m. during the month of December for Holiday Nights.