If you're ever near Sarasota, Fla., you must stop in at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. In fact, it's worth a trip to the Sunshine State just to see this public garden along with others dotting Florida's Golf Coast.
When I was in the Selby Gardens a couple of weeks ago, I only had a few hours to explore. I could have spent a week there, and I still wouldn't have discovered it all. Of course, that's true of most gardens, isn't it? Here are some of the highlights:
Across from the Christy Payne mansion, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is a lovely butterfly garden--the subject of a previous post. It's an excellent example of how to attract and feed monarchs and other butterflies, with plenty of Penta, Verbena, Coneflowers, and Milkweed.
We were fortunate to visit the gardens during the annual Rainforest Masks of Costa Rica exhibition. More than 200 hand-carved masks created by Borucan artists were on display inside the Christy Payne mansion. The masks are carved from 100% sustainable native wood.
Selby Gardens has an amazing collection of epiphytes, including more than 6,000 orchids, and numerous bromeliads, gesneriads, and other plants. If you don't look up (and all around) while walking through the gardens, you'll miss some amazing plants growing in nooks and along the branches of trees.
I have a thing for tree bark. One of my favorites is Eucalyptus, shown in the middle of this collage. The first time I saw a Eucalyptus tree, several years ago, I couldn't believe the rainbow colors were real. On the left: Chorisia speciosa, or Floss Silk Tree. On the right: Pachypodium lamerei, a Madagascar Palm.
As in most botanical gardens, Selby includes many other fascinating tree species, including Pandanus utilis (Screw Pine) and Bombax ceiba (Red Silk Cotton). The latter captured the filtered sunlight so gracefully as I walked by, while its spent blooms littered the earth below.
It's always fun to see Bonsai trees cultivated from common and not-so-common tree species. With more time, I would have lingered over this display a bit more.
Selby Gardens has an entire garden devoted to Hibiscus plants ...
and a display of container-grown vegetables. (The Lettuce looked so fresh, I was tempted to forage for my lunch. It was difficult, but I did resist the temptation).
Plenty of benches and sitting spots dot the gardens, including one with a spectacular view of Sarasota; many shaded benches under the branches of fascinating trees (shown in middle photo: Clerodendrum quadriloculare); and shaded patio tables and chairs near the Selby House Cafe.
So many fascinating plants catch the eye and find their way onto one's camera memory card, including Quesnelia arvensis, Platycerium bifurcatum, and Aechmea 'Blue Tango.' So many plants, so little time.
The arts of hardscapes and plant landscaping are apparent throughout the property.
And of course there are shops for purchasing souvenirs and plants, including a huge selection of orchids, bromeliads, and tropical plants.
If I ever get back to this garden, I think I'll spend more time at the incredible koi pond. And maybe I'll sit down right there and read a good book.