Today I visited two charming gardens in Sarasota and close enough together that you could visit them both in a morning....if the heat didn't get to you first! The first is the Sarasota Garden Club, nestling right behind one of the major hotels in the city and, I suspect often overlooked by visitors, even though it is quite charming.
This small garden (left) is run entirely by volunteers and is a non-profit organisation that offers talks and education programmes to both members and the community at large. Friday is a particularly good day to visit because you'll always find members at work in the garden and they're happy to talk to you and answer any questions.
Particularly noteworthy is the butterfly garden here, which has been planted with species that appeal to butterflies and hummingbirds - you can access this at any time of day and you will be rewarded with many butterfly sightings.
If you have kids, don't miss the Jungle Gardens (right). These are are another great "find" in Sarasota! They are more than just a garden lovers paradise with the plethora of tropical plants, including more than 100 species of palms. There are also the birds, which will enthrall the children (and the adults!) - there are lots of parrots, which make wonderful photographs, and of course, flamingoes, which you can get really close to, plus reptiles (not my scene, I'm afraid, so I didn't get too close!).
I got the fright of my life while photographing them - I was so busy looking through my lens that I didn't notice one coming up behind me and the first I knew of it was when I got tapped on the shoulder and jumped out of my skin! I don't think anybody can really resist these ridiculous creatures - pink and pompous - and extremely noisy when they get together in a group. The kids will love them...and so will you!