For those of you who regularly read my blog, you will know that I have fallen in love with Botanical Gardens. My recent forays in the UK took me to both Oxford and Wales, but now I'm in the US, it would be a sin to miss out of The Marie Selby Botanical Garden, right here on my doorstep.
I did visit earlier this year when I was here and wrote: "This is such a wonderful place to visit to see specimens that you won't see growing in ordinary gardens in Sarasota. It's location is perfect, overlooking the bay, and for anyone interested in orchids, this is a must. The garden covers some nine acres and is a fine showcase for bromeliads and epiphytes (plants that live on other plants). And with the latter, you have to make sure that you keep looking up!"
The plants in the Tropical Display House (some shown here) are fantastic! I have to confess that I don't know a lot about orchids so to me they are just extraordinary plants that make wonderful pictures, but judging from the exclamations coming from visitors all around me, this collection is impressive. All I know is that I spent so long looking at them that I nearly got locked in at the end of the day!"
One of the features of this garden that I love best is that it's not just a feast for the eyes, but there are so many plants here that you just want to touch, because they're so incredibly tactile and attractive, particularly the leaves (below), the bark on the trees and the flowers themselves.
The gardens outside are fantastic - there are bamboo, palm and banyan groves; hibiscus, "succulent" and wildflower gardens; a Koi pond; magnificent displays of bromeliads and of course - the epiphytes - which made me walk into a bench because I was so busy looking up!
The gardens were established by William and Marie Selby - low-key millionaires who settled in Sarasota in 1909. The lived first on a houseboat and then moved into the house which is at the heart of the gardens. This is a wonderful place to spend a peaceful half-day and well worth taking a detour for if you're a gardener. It doesn't come cheap at $17.00 a head, but should be on every gardener's "Must See" list. And for those who decide that they are going to grow their own orchids, the shop has one of the best selections I've ever seen, but of course, as a UK resident, I can't take them home!