|There's nearly always a wonderful sunset in Sarasota!|
The garden that really surprised me here was Mable Ringling's Rose Garden, which I first visited last November. I'm not really a rose lover, but this little jewel is filled with some of the finest roses I've ever seen, which came as quite a shock to me given the climate here, because I mistakenly thought that it would be too hot for roses. Well ... I was wrong and can assure you I saw more fine blooms here than I've seen at many gardens back home in England!
|There's many different roses on show in Mable Ringling's rose garden in Sarasota|
Move onto the Jungle Gardens if you've got the kids with you, because they'll love the parrots and reptiles on show here. This is a charming "olde worlde" place, with fine gardens and lots to see, ranging from the colourful macaws to the lazy reptiles that look at you with one eye. There are more than 100 different palms here if you're interested in trees and there's also the flamingoes, which will provide hours of entertainment for the kids, especially if you buyfood for them (the birds, not the children).
|One of many macaws on display at Jungle Gardens, Sarasota - a great day out for parents and children|
For ideas for your own garden, drop in on the Sarasota Garden Club - run by volunteers - and one of Mable Ringling's interests besides her own garden during her time in the city. You'll see a mini tropical world here, immaculately tended and with a special butterfly garden; lots of local plants and, if you visit on a Friday, you'll find volunteers at work who can answer your questions.
|If you want some ideas for your own garden, visit the Sarasota Garden Club|
Next day head off to see impressive plants at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens including one of the finest orchid collections in the continental US - to be found in the glasshouse. And there's a lot more than orchids here - there are also many unusual trees and plants outside in the immaculately tended gardens; impressive collections of bamboo, bromeliads, epiphytes and much, much more. Spectacular views over Sarasota Bay too and a mangrove board walk where you'll see many shore birds at low tide.
|There's always something in bloom at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens - an orchid lover's paradise|
If you're in the area, don't miss Historic Spanish Point - heading south towards Venice, you'll find this waterside estate off the Tamiami Trail in Osprey. Former home of wealthy socialite - Bertha Palmer - widow of a Chicago magnate, this is another garden with lovely views over the bay, a sunken garden and lots of history. This garden doesn't seem to feature in the tourist blurb about Sarasota, so you'll find it very peaceful and uncrowded - a good place to take a picnic.
|Spanish Point, south of Sarasota, is well worth a visit if you fancy a walk on the coast and some history|