Sunday, January 13, 2013


For the first 18 years of my life I lived within 1mile of the beach. A long sandy beach which stretched for miles and miles. I spent a lot of time there from a very early age. So, it isn't surprising that I love to walk along beaches and that is what I have been doing on the wonderful beaches of the Florida Gulf coast.

I look for shells, David looks for dinner.

And our grand daughter finds her first fossil shark's tooth.
But a gardener needs to get a garden fix and mine was a visit to the Marie Selby Botanical Garden in Sarasota. From our campsite at Turtle Beach to the gardens is a very pleasant 10 mile ride on our folding bikes. I mention the folding because with that small wheel it takes a lot longer to achieve this distance. Being unused to the saddle there were a few stops along the way for some derriere relief!

One stop was to admire these hibiscus-like flowers strewn along the sidewalk. Not the hibiscus leaf I am used to though. We would have to wait until we reached the gardens to get an ID.

This is the fourth time we have visited the garden which is a paradise of ficus, bamboo, orchids, succulents, epiphytes and all manner of tropical plants. Fortunately our membership at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center affords us free entry into the garden on their reciprocal gardens program. If you travel and love to visit gardens then I can assure you that this is a wonderful benefit of the membership and paid for itself in this one visit!

Following the death of her husband Marie Selby continued to live in the bayfront home, among the banyans and laurels, until her death in 1971. It was her wish to leave the house and gardens to the community and in 1975 the gardens opened to the public for the first time, as a center for epiphyte display and research. We first entered their beautiful conservatory with displays of orchids, pitcher plants, euphorbias and epiphytes.

Potinara, Burana Beauty

Nepenthes bicalcarata

Paphiopedilum spicerianum
Then out into the bright Florida sunlight and a tropical jungle.

Eyes are drawn up high into the trees to tropical epiphytes.

In the bromeliad garden the branches are festooned with plants attached to the tree trunks by their snake-like roots.

The original 7 acre garden has grown over the years with the addition of the adjacent property. The house is now used to display art and the current exhibition is of botanical watercolors with a difference.
You can read all about the exhibit here.

Behind the house lies the butterfly, herb gardens and tropical fruit garden.

The gardens are a perfect place for a wedding venue with the large covered gazebo overlooking the waters of Sarasota Bay.

The pathway winds along the bayfront where the aerial roots of the Banyan have created an archway.

Many flowering bushes of the Brazilian rainforest tree, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Brunfelsia sp.

And a photographic opportunity under the Ficus microcarpa, Chineses Banyan.

Tucked into the far corner a koi pond.

And by the pond's edge the beautiful pendulous blooms of Clerodendrum schmidtii.

The garden shop with a fine display of orchids. Tempted but wise.

And finally the identification of our roadside plant. The sea hibiscus and by all accounts invasive. Another yesterday, today and tomorrow type plant where the blooms begin as yellow and by the time they drop they are that rusty red color.

Then back on the bikes for the 10 mile ride back to camp. We did stop on the way at the wonderful little bakery at Moreton's on Osprey for a shared slice of German chocolate cake. Glad I worked that off with the bike ride.


  1. Looks like a wonderful place to spend the day! (Love the idea of biking to gardens like this too)

    1. Have to get the exercise somehow but I'd much rather be burning calories int he garden.

  2. I'll second your "tempted but wise" when it comes to orchids. I've killed a few over the years, though I do have a cattleya that has persisted. I've propagated it twice and it still blooms which always amazes me.

    1. When we were looking for a greenhouse we visited someone who grew orchids. All the contraptions he had for humidity and temperature put me off that kind of gardening.

  3. I am keeping a list of the gardens you visit. It is my dream to see as many as I can in retirement.

    1. Yes, retirement is wonderful for travel but not so good for one's own garden.

  4. So nice to see sunshine and warmth on this cold January day (shorts!). All the shells on the beach, the bromeliads in the trees...beautiful!

  5. Hope you are enjoying the weather! Looks as if you are. How exciting to have found a shark's tooth!!!! I remember collecting those when I was younger. I love the pathway with the roots- beautiful.

  6. Thank you for taking us along on your visit. I now have another garden-to-see on my list.

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  8. I've always wanted to go nice to see all those bromeliads in the trees. I may try to do that here with my tropical garden. What fun!
    Thanks for the idea.

  9. That sounds like a lovely day spent in gardens, on bikes, and at the shore. The orchids in that little garden shop would have tempted me too.

  10. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing. We live in Sarasota County and never tire of visiting this enchanting spot.