Thursday, 25 November 2010

Reflections from Marie Selby Gardens in Sarasota

Although my winter home is here in Florida, I realised that I've never really reviewed the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens here! I've marvelled at their epiphytesogled the orchids, photographed leaves in the Tropical Display House and enjoyed the view over Sarasota Bay from there on many occasions, but never given an overview of what's on offer at this amazing garden just a few miles from where I live.
The gardens cover some 11 acres of prime bayfront property in downtown Sarasota with wonderful views over the water (above). They are the legacy of William and Marie Selby, who moved here in the early 1900s and remained for the rest of their lives. The gardens opened to the public in 1975 and have become one of the leading orchid and epiphyte centres in the United States. Marie Selby was fascinated by plants and would be pleased to know that her former home is now being used  to "further the understanding of plant life, with emphasis on epiphytes, and to provide enjoyment for all who visit the gardens."
The Tropical Display house (above) is the piece de resistance here, with it's wonderful orchid displays. There are well over 5,000 species here and every visit to the garden sees different orchids in bloom so you can be assured that no two visits will be the same. So it's not surprising you encounter feverish photographers at work here every time you visit! And although it's the orchids that have made this garden famous, they are only a tiny part of what's on offer. 
Outside there is a magical world of epiphytes and a showcase of tropical plants and trees collected from all over the world - all immaculately labelled. You will see exotic names like Borneo, India and Indonesia cropping up all over the gardens and if you take the time to look, you will realise there's an extraordinarily large collection of plants - some 20,000 - sheltering here in this small Sarasota paradise. There's a banyan grove, a fine collection of palms and figs, a magnificent bamboo pavilion, bromeliads and butterflies, and a cycad collection reminding you these strange plants have been here for millions of years!
The gardens are extraordinarily peaceful and you can spend several hours wandering through the shady lawn areas, the Hibiscus Garden, the Baywalk Sanctuary where the boardwalk paths wander through the mangrove swamp, or just enjoy the plants and flowers in bloom throughout the seasons. This is truly a garden of textures and shapes and a place to enjoy! 

3 comments:

  1. This is one of the two botanical gardens I still have to see in Florida and now that you've informed me of the emphasis on epiphytes I have to make the trip! That sounds so fun, and I especialy love the vignette with the stone Buddha.

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  2. Les trésors ne sont jamais très loin !

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  3. It's great to know about this garden. I hope to get there some day. Carolyn

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