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The Selby Memorial Gardens
The Selby Memorial Gardens are situated in Sarasota on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
The story of these stunning gardens starts with the marriage of Bill and Marie Selby. Bill had long ago fallen in love with Sarasota and fortunately his bride soon came under its spell as well.
They duly bought seven acres of land that spanned Sarasota Bay and Hudson Bayou. They built a home on the land and then Marie set about creating her dream garden.
In 1955, they formed the William and Marie Selby foundation and this supported arts and education projects for the local population.
Bill was a very wealthy man but despite this they lived relatively simple lives in a non flashy way.
William died in 1956 and Marie followed him 6 years later. In her will she stated that she wished the gardens to be for the use of the local people and so it was that in 1975, these gardens were opened to the public.
These gardens now encompass 13 acres; the trust bought the extra acreage along with an elegant mansion which is used as the museum.
The unique factor for this garden is that is the only one in America to specialise in epiphytic plants. What are they I hear you cry Well, if I say air plants, then you will know what I mean. Epiphytic plants quite simply do not grow in soil but often attach themselves to trees (for example) or objects.
In order to broaden the selection of plants on show here there have been 150 expeditions to rain forests to seek out and bring back rare specimens.
These gardens now show a staggering 20 000 green house plants (of which, 6000 are orchids) It is a centre of excellence for orchids and herbs and I bet you that there is not a bromelliad that they could not identify.
One nice footnote is that they have re buried Bill and Marie in the gardens that they so loved. They have also built a fountain as a memorial to this philanthropic couple.
They have a great tea shop here that sells local teas and coffees and also sells lunches and home baked snacks.
The Selby Memorial Gardens are open every day of the year except Christmas Day and entry costs $17 per adult and $6 per child.
It is certain that a keen gardener will love this place but it will be equally enjoyable to those that just appreciate its beauty.
The Selby Memorial Garden.
811 South Palm Avenue
Tel 941 366 5731
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