The mind can be at its brightest in the dark of night. A search for inspiration or a moment of quiet, may have led Thomas Edison to slip out of his office on some starry night and into the shimmering stillness of his Moonlight Garden in Fort Myers.
The garden was the idea of Thomas Edison’s wife Mina and a source of great pride. To create the space, she enlisted Ellen Biddle Shipman, a landscape architect renowned for her work on lush gardens in New England and New Orleans. The design featured a long reflecting pool, flanked by vines, shrubs and flowers of green, yellow, red, white and blue. The space was in constant change, as new and exotic flowers were brought in throughout the seasons.
What may sound like a small, unassuming garden would at times become a focal point of national – even international – attention. When President-elect Herbert Hoover visited the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, part of a press conference was held in the garden. The British Broadcasting Corporation sent a film crew to cover the space as one of the USA’s greatest gardens. Just recently in 2017, it won a bronze medal from the Royal Horticultural Society.
One can imagine Edison stepping into the garden at night, a cigar in-hand, and the stars and moon pouring light down into the reflecting pool below. There’s music from a phonograph playing softly nearby. The flowers are blooming, releasing their sweet fragrance. It’s a space that consumes you with beauty, or as one writer said, “a temple to the senses.”
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