Beautiful Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida
The Selby Gardens
There are literally hundreds of botanical gardens spread all across the landscape of America and each offers its own special beauty.
What sets the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida apart from all the other gardens is its focus on specializing in showcasing and studying epiphytic plants.
From orchids to banyon trees to bamboo one can find this and more at the Selby Gardens.
For those of you unfamiliar with that term, epiphytic plants are those that live by existing on other plants.
Epiphytes generally use other plants for support deriving their nutrients and moisture from the air.
Good examples of epiphytes are orchids, bromeliads and Spanish moss.
Sometimes epiphytes are referred to as air plants.
Sometimes their roots encase and actually cause the death of the host plant, but this is not always the norm.
Many of these epiphytes have cupped leaves in which to catch available rain water or have roots dangling to absorb every bit of moisture from the air.
Unusual and distinctive flowers of every hue and color imaginable can be enjoyed while viewing many of these distinctive forms of flora.
When my mother and I visited my aunt and uncle in Florida in 1998 they took us to see the Selby Gardens in Sarasota.
What a feast for the eyes!
At that time there were seven greenhouses maintaining over 20,000 plants. Visitors can see amazingly colorful and exotic orchids, bromeliads and other flora in a tempered year round environment.
An orchid identification center as well as a bromeliad identification center makes one aware of plant names as one browses through this massive display. Just about every orchid found in the world can be located here at the Selby Gardens!
Much research and education is accomplished here and the Selby Foundation helps fund this as well as having an impact on other programs impacting people in the Sarasota community.
Many volunteers help keep the gardens in tip top shape and also help with the many social and cultural activities held in the gardens each year.
The Marie Selby Grounds
Wandering the paths of the Selby Botanical Gardens outdoors takes one on a journey through many acres planted with different focus areas. Included are categories of plantings such as the following:
- Live Oak Grove
- Bamboo Pavilion
- Banyan Grove
- Hibiscus Garden
- Palm Grove
- Koi Pond
- Wildflower Garden
- Azalea Garden
- Herb Garden
- Butterfly Garden
- Baywalk, etc.
Of course there are the greenhouses, the Selby House, Museum shops and other places hosting activities, research and the learning center.
One can also purchase plants here.
We truly enjoyed strolling through the different parts of this gorgeous garden which borders Sarasota Bay and the Hudson Bayou.
Marie Selby and her Garden
Marie was born in West Virginia in the year 1885 and she was first called by the name of Mariah Minshall.
Her dad was a geologist and invented some parts for oil drilling equipment.
Marie's future husband, William, was a partner with his dad in the Selby Oil and Gas Company which later became known as Texaco Oil Company.
They married in 1908 and shared an interest in cross-country automobile racing, camping, boating and fishing. Marie Selby was happy to have a home built on the site of what was to become the Selby Botanical Gardens years later.
William and Marie also had a ranch home in Montana.
Despite being multimillionaires they lived a relatively quiet life. They loved outdoor activities which led them to be members of the Sarasota Yacht Club and Marie became a charter member of the first garden club in Sarasota.
She designed the landscaping of their homesite along Sarasota Bay and gradually kept expanding it.
After William died in 1956 Marie continued to live there until her death in 1971.
She left the property to the community so that the public could continue to enjoy the gardening efforts that she had initiated and nurtured into the beautiful botanical garden that it has become today.
The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens opened to the public on July 7, 1975. The garden has been expanded to include the acreage included today with the help and oversight of the board of directors overseeing the operation along with the help of countless volunteers.
We were so happy to be introduced to this beautiful garden by my aunt and uncle. We got to see plants and trees that we had never previously viewed.
The Australian Grass Tree was a most unusual sight.
I found the Bo Tree and its leaves to be most interesting.
The Moreton Bay Fig Tree roots were a thing of beauty. They were large enough to sit upon in some cases rising up several feet above ground! The roots of this tree are definitely distinctive and different from most other tree roots.
This photo was used as subject matter for a limited edition lithograph that I produced.
There were surprises like the sculpture found amidst the interior of a banyan tree!
The koi pond was serene and the colorful fish swam amidst the tropical foliage surrounding that spot with the sound of a small waterfall in the background.
The bamboo forest was tall and offered a shady rest spot.
Overall, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a most pleasant experience filled with the largest collection of epiphytes that you will probably ever see on American soil.
The other varied plant collections such as the banyan trees and stands of towering bamboo add to the magnificence of this Sarasota garden. I would heartily recommend a visit if you enjoy touring gardens and are in this area of Florida.
If you cannot get there in person BE SURE AND CHECK OUT THIS FANTASTIC VIDEO!
Have you ever visited the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens?
© 2009 Peggy Woods