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Visiting Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida ~~ A Pictorial Journal
An explosion of color and texture will awaken a sensory response as you meander along through this Garden....taking you to a place of tranquility that is found in the beauty there.
Tucked up just off the hustle and bustle highway in Sarasota, Florida, is a magical wonderland for the lover of nature's bounty. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Sprawling for fourteen acres it is a smorgasbord for your senses. At every turn there you will find loveliness and calm that is unrivaled in any place except nature.
It is as close to a natural setting as it can be in many respects except that beautiful and unusual plants and trees are in a protected area where we can go to enjoy them all in one location.
After paying or showing your membership card, you enter an enclosed area that is like a mini-rainforest with an overabundance of lush flowering plants and unusual hanging plants that welcome you to the gardens.
I felt like Alice in Wonderland after she drank the magic potion and became smaller...the large leafy plants towered over my head.
Epiphytes are abundant at the gardens
An epiphyte is a plant that lives on another plant but is not parasitic. Spanish Moss (not truly a moss) is the most common epiphyte in Florida and is in the family with the bromeliad.
Epiphytes are found in such plants group as bromeliads, heaths, nightshades, orchids, ferns, and true mosses.
Orchids have water storage organs known as psuedobulbs which help them survive periods of drought.
They use unique adaptations to collect water such as the small cup like cavities at the base of the bromeliad.
Little surprises come into view as you meander through the Gardens
After leaving the enclosed portion of the Gardens, the wonderland continues as you travel along the pathways of this sprawling acreage.
A sense of calm settles over you as you meander along through a bounty of nature's most glorious offerings.
Tucked in one little alcove is a koi pond. Those koi expect to be fed. Food for the koi had been purchased at the entrance so we were ready. They really acted as if they would jump out to have a bite of the food!! What fun that was. Later in the day we say the baby ducklings and their Momma that are shown in photos below. The ducklings were sunning and Momma was nearby preening but keeping a close eye on her young.
Take your time. There is no sense of urgency as you are drawn further along the paths and spy some new and wondrous spectacle.
Location of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
The purpose of this breathtaking collection of plant life if to generate interest in and appreciation and understanding of plant life. Much of the focus is on epiphytes and on scientific research, displays of horticulture, conservation, and education.
Not to be overlooked is the desire too for all to become immersed in the wonder of it all as they visit.
A little about the garden
This magnificent garden had its official opening on July 7, 1975. This had been the final wish of Marie Selby.
The size of the original garden as seven acres and now it is nearly 23 acres. A mansion sits on the adjoining property that was purchased in 1973. It is now the home of the Gardens' Museum.
More than 20000 plants await you as you stroll through enclosed areas and out into the open air.
This beautiful gem is not just a place of beauty but is a center respected for research and education.
William and Marie Selby
William and Marie Selby were high school sweethearts who married in 1903 in Marietta, Ohio.
The couple traveled to Sarasota a town Bill had visited earlier and stayed in an inn there when he would fish and hunt in Florida's wilds.
Marie soon began to join Bill in his annual journeys to Florida each winter. They acquired land in 1921 that was located on Sarasota Bay and Hudson Bayou. The built a house that is now on the grounds of the Gardens and then made Sarasota their home
The Shelby's Shared with Sarasota
One year before Bill's death, the Selbys would set into motion efforts that would establish their presence in Sarasota and their impact on Sarasota at large. Bill established up a Charitable Trust designed to help young people since he and Marie had no children. He had seen a number of young men in his oil business that he felt were handicapped due to a lack of higher education. For that reason he and Marie decided they would use their money to help the future of young people in the future
Marie left a special gift to Sarasota as well. She established a trust that would create and maintain the public gardens we now enjoy today."Over the past fifty-plus years the foundation has provided more than $83 million for hundreds of nonprofit agencies, and more than 3,500 scholarship recipients. This remarkable feat has taken place from the original investment by the Selbys that was $19.5 million. The current market value of the foundation is over $72 million, and this insures a continuing contribution of nearly $4 million a year for qualified grants and scholarships to benefit our community."
An enchanting walkway that carries you further into wonderland
Ducklings at the koi pond || Momma close at hand
Step away from tourist spots for a few minutes
When you visit Florida and are traveling to Sarasota, make this a must-see stop on your trip. It is an enthralling experience that will linger with you long after your visit has ended.
Step out of the frenzy of the rush rush that life can become and settle into the calm and beauty that awaits you there.
© 2013 Patricia Scott