Sunday, February 13, 2011

Midwinter moonlight gardens

A girls-only trip to western Florida last weekend landed me at the Edison winter estate in Ft. Myers.  In addition to the glorious orchids nestled in the boughs of mango trees, heirloom roses embellishing the grounds, and banyan trees dripping with prop roots, this romantic little private garden was a heart-stealer.

Designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman in 1929 for Edison's wife, Mina, this moonlight garden was restored to its intimate, contemplative beauty in 2006.  The diminuative outdoor room, extending from the back of Edison's "Little Office," is enclosed on its other three sides by a deep green hedge topped by scarlet-flowering bougainvillea, "Barbara Karst."  An antique white climbing rose, Prosperity,” sprawls up the Little Office's chimney.  Between the white Chinese paper lanterns ringing the garden perimeter are more white flowers: Pentas lanceolata, star-like Vietnamese gardenias, and Begonia odorata "Alba." What glorious scents there must have been at night!

In the evening, strings of electric lights would have been reflected, starlight-like, in the pool below.  This is one of those thoughtful gardens which succeeds as much because it aligns perfectly with the personalities of those for whom it was designed as for its own gentle charm.

Returning up north, I peaked out at my own moonlight garden last night.  Here it is, shivering in the frozen, snow-covered midwinter darkness. How much longer?

No comments: