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Florida Guide > Other Florida

Marie Selby Botanical Garden

If you are staying in the Sarasota area on the Gulf coast, it is described as number one by Florida Monthly readers and Country Living Gardener Magazine and is also number one in the top ten of ’ Must Do’ s in Sarasota’ by the Sarasota Magazine. If that isn’ t enough to tempt you let me tell you a little more about it.

Marie Selby and her husband moved to Florida in the 1920s and built a spanish style house and this was when her interest in gardening began. Her parents later moved to live near their daughter and built a house next door. In the 1950s her husband established a Foundation which today supports many areas ranging from the young to the elderly. Marie’ s passion for the gardens continued to her death in 1971 when the gardens were left to the community as a Botanical Garden “for the enjoyment of the general public”. A Board of Trustees were appointed and in 1975 the gardens were officially opened. As with many places it is chiefly maintained by volunteers, in fact when we were walking round we encountered one of them who happened to be English. How he managed to be gardening in those temperatures I don’ t know. It was in the high 80s. I certainly know I would not be gardening in those temperatures back home.

Since then the gardens have increased in size and you can spend a very pleasant few hours wandering around them. Although we went in the spring I am sure whatever time of year you go there will be something to see. There were many greenhouses to wander through and although I love plants I cannot for the life of me tell you exactly what we saw. What I do remember are the stunning orchids which I really love, I could spend hours looking at them so it was somewhere I had to be dragged away from. One of the other things I had to be dragged away from was watching the Koi. I managed to get some wonderful photos of them.

Halfway round you come to the Schimmel Wedding Lawn and Pavilion where many weddings are performed to the rustle of the leaves in the nearby trees. This overlooks the Bay and is the most fantastic backdrop for a wedding. Weddings are also held in other parts of the grounds but this is by far the most popular and once you have seen it you can see why.

You then continue you journey on round the gardens and go through the Mangrove Walkway. Here we caught sight of both the Little and Great Egrets, also a Blue Heron on the look out for their lunch. They also seemed totally unconcerned by us and we were able to get some lovely photos.

Once you have completed the tour of the garden we went into the Selby Museum and saw a display of photos and how I wish I was such a genius with a camera.

Of course we ended our visit in the restaurant for a snack lunch before driving back to the villa for a swim.

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Page added on: 14 June 2008
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