Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Orchids and epiphytes galore ... a re-visit

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!


  1. I can't agree more that Selby is a wonderful garden. It is second on my list of Florida gardens, bested only by Fairchild Tropical Gardens in Miami. Liz and I try to make the trip to Sarasota at least twice a year. Do you plan to make the reopening of the Naples Bot. garden after their refurbishment?

  2. Ah........ orchids. My parents were such avid collectors when they were alive.
    Brought back memories.
    It is lovely going round Botanical Gardens and we have some lovely ones here owned by the National Trust all over Britain.
    Thanks for visiting me.

  3. Lovely photos! Those 'furry' orchids are amazing :D

  4. Such incredible plants. I am particularly taken with that wonderfully cushy leaved plant. It is just gorgeous.

  5. Thank you for visiting my blog and becoming a follower - yours looks very interesting to me, too. Your pictures are lovely!

    Pomona x

  6. You are right, I'd like to touch those leaves on the fourth picture!

  7. Orchids seem to me like they could be Venusian rather than Earth-bound. Thanks heavens for botanical gardens, where even we cold climate gardeners can get a taste of the tropics.

  8. I really like the plants you have shared and i agree that they attract to be touched. i also dont know much about orchids but they are lovely. Congrats to you for your blog nomination in 2 awards in blotanical awards 2009. Best of luck!!!!

  9. Ohhhh! Orchids! I think I would've got locked in too. Once I see a botanical garden, there's no dragging me away. That bench looks like a great spot to sit and drink in all that beauty!

  10. Orchids are the most extraordinary plants and there are many collectors of rare orchids who don't mind paying a hefty sum for them.

  11. What a place this must be! Orchids can be addictive! I have it under control now, but would be sorely tempted at a place with such a wide variety and so well grown. :-)