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Periwinkle Garden Club donates artist’s rain barrel and butterfly sign to Edison and Ford Winter Estates

FORT MYERS, Fla. (July 11, 2022) — Edison and Ford Winter Estates recently received a donated rain barrel and a butterfly sign from the Periwinkle Garden Club. The rain barrel was painted by artist Marie Dyer, who teaches painting classes at the Estates, and the butterfly sign was designed by Nick Bodvin, a long-time, local butterfly gardener.

When Thomas Edison arrived to Fort Myers in 1885, he purchased 13 acres along the Caloosahatchee River from Samuel Summerlin, a prominent cattle rancher. The property included a “cracker” (the nickname for Florida cowboys) house, which became Edison’s caretaker’s home. Today, it is one of the oldest standing structures in Lee County. The barrel is installed outside that same house; collected rain will be used to water plants in the nearby garden beds.

The Edisons would have similarly collected rain to water their crops and gardens. The artist’s painting on the barrel depicts “crackers” herding cattle in Southwest Florida. The scene is one that Edison himself may have witnessed — back when Fort Myers’ population was only about 350 and the largest industry was cattle ranching.

The butterfly sign was installed in the new butterfly garden between the side of the museum and Larchmont Avenue, near the Garden Shoppe. It represents the many butterflies that visitors are likely to see at the Estates. The butterfly garden includes a shaded path for visitors to stroll, or they may sit on a bench and observe butterflies.

For locals wanting to create a butterfly garden of their own, many of the plants featured in the garden are sold in the Garden Shoppe. A butterfly gardening talk will be offered at the Estates on September 10 and will provide guests with information on how to attract butterflies to a home garden. Tickets for the talk are $10 for Edison Ford members, or $15 for non-members.

Mina Edison enjoyed gardening at her Fort Myers estate and became involved in many community projects, including efforts to beautify the city. In 1928, the Periwinkle Garden Club was founded and Mina Edison was one of the initial members. Today, Edison and Ford Winter Estates hosts many gardening events and classes in Mina’s honor. Tours are offered daily and specialty garden tours are available by appointment through the horticulture department. To purchase tickets or check the calendar for upcoming events, visit

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