Beautiful Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida

Updated on October 8, 2018
Peggy W profile image

The southern states have a charm all their own. From beaches to deserts, there is a wide array of landscapes to please almost anyone!

Orchids in bloom
Orchids in bloom | Source

There are literally hundreds of botanical gardens spread all across the landscape of America, and each offers its own special beauty. What sets the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida, apart from all the other gardens is its focus on specializing in, showcasing, and studying epiphytic plants. From orchids and banyan trees to bamboo, one can find all sorts of wonders at the Selby Gardens.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Epiphyte blossoms at Marie Selby Botanical GardensBeautiful orchids from the Marie Selby Botanical GardensHibiscus blossomBeautiful orchid in the Marie Selby Botanical GardensFrilly orchid plant at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Epiphyte blossoms at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Epiphyte blossoms at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens | Source
Beautiful orchids from the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Beautiful orchids from the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens | Source
Hibiscus blossom
Hibiscus blossom | Source
Beautiful orchid in the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Beautiful orchid in the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens | Source
Frilly orchid plant at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Frilly orchid plant at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens | Source

Epiphytes and Air Plants

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, epiphytes are those that live by existing on other plants. Epiphytic plants generally use other plants for support, deriving their nutrients and moisture from the air.

Good examples of epiphytes are orchids, bromeliads, and Spanish moss. At the Selby Gardens, unusual and distinctive flowers of every hue and color imaginable can be enjoyed while viewing many of these distinctive forms of flora.

Sometimes epiphytes are referred to as air plants. Many of these epiphytes have cupped leaves in which to catch available rainwater or have roots dangling to absorb every bit of moisture from the air. Occasionally, their roots encase and actually cause the death of the host plant, but this is not always the norm.

The Selby Gardens and Foundation

When my mother and I visited my aunt and uncle in Florida in 1998 they took us to see the Selby Gardens in Sarasota. What a feast for the eyes! At that time, there were seven greenhouses maintaining over 20,000 plants. Visitors can see amazingly colorful and exotic orchids, bromeliads, and other flora in a tempered year-round environment.

An orchid identification center as well as a bromeliad identification center makes one aware of plant names as one browses through this massive display. Just about every orchid found in the world can be located here at the Selby Gardens!

The Selby Foundation helps fund research and education as well as having an impact on other programs impacting people in the Sarasota community.

Many volunteers help keep the gardens in tip-top shape and also help with the many social and cultural activities held in the gardens each year.

The Marie Selby Grounds

Wandering the paths of the Selby Botanical Gardens outdoors takes one on a journey through many acres planted with different focus areas. Included are categories of plantings such as the following:

  • Live Oak Grove
  • Bamboo Pavilion
  • Banyan Grove
  • Hibiscus Garden
  • Palm Grove
  • Mangroves
  • Koi Pond
  • Wildflower Garden
  • Azalea Garden
  • Herb Garden
  • Butterfly Garden
  • Baywalk, etc.

Of course, there are also greenhouses, the Selby House, museum shops, other places hosting activities, and the research and the learning center. One can also purchase plants here.

We truly enjoyed strolling through the different parts of this gorgeous garden which borders Sarasota Bay and the Hudson Bayou.

Marie Selby

Marie was born in West Virginia in the year 1885 and was first called by the name of Mariah Minshall. Her dad was a geologist and invented some parts for oil drilling equipment.

Marie's future husband, William, was a partner with his dad in the Selby Oil and Gas Company which later became known as Texaco Oil Company. William and Marie married in 1908 and shared an interest in cross-country automobile racing, camping, boating, and fishing. Marie Selby was happy to have a home built on the site of what was to become the Selby Botanical Gardens years later. William and Marie also had a ranch home in Montana.

Despite being multimillionaires, they lived a relatively quiet life. They loved outdoor activities, which led them to be members of the Sarasota Yacht Club, and Marie became a charter member of the first garden club in Sarasota. She designed the landscaping of their homesite along Sarasota Bay and gradually kept expanding it.

After William died in 1956, Marie continued to live there until her death in 1971. She left the property to the community so that the public could continue to enjoy the gardening efforts that she had initiated and nurtured into the beautiful botanical garden that it has become today.

The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens opened to the public on July 7, 1975. The garden has been expanded to include the acreage included today with the help and oversight of the board of directors overseeing the operation along with the help of countless volunteers.

We were so happy to be introduced to this beautiful garden by my aunt and uncle. We got to see plants and trees that we had never previously viewed. The Australian Grass Tree was a most unusual sight. I also found the Bo Tree and its leaves to be most interesting.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens border Sarasota Bay.Marie Selby Botanical Gardens"Black mangroves produce specialized roots called pneumatophores, finger-like projections rising above the soil which help supply the submerged roots with oxygen. Their leaves are also distinctive, dark green on top but almost white underneath.Marie Selby Botanical GardensThe Palm Grove at Marie Selby Botanical GardensTop of the Australian Grass TreeAustralian Grass Tree ( Xanthorrhoeaceae)A Bo Tree (Ficus religiosa) Taken from a sign posted by the tree... "Sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists, the Bo tree is the most revered tree in the world.  The Buddha meditated for six years under a Bo tree and there received the enlightenment."A dried Bo leaf at the Selby Gardens
The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens border Sarasota Bay.
The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens border Sarasota Bay. | Source
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens | Source
"Black mangroves produce specialized roots called pneumatophores, finger-like projections rising above the soil which help supply the submerged roots with oxygen. Their leaves are also distinctive, dark green on top but almost white underneath.
"Black mangroves produce specialized roots called pneumatophores, finger-like projections rising above the soil which help supply the submerged roots with oxygen. Their leaves are also distinctive, dark green on top but almost white underneath. | Source
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens | Source
The Palm Grove at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
The Palm Grove at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens | Source
Top of the Australian Grass Tree
Top of the Australian Grass Tree | Source
Australian Grass Tree ( Xanthorrhoeaceae)
Australian Grass Tree ( Xanthorrhoeaceae) | Source
A Bo Tree (Ficus religiosa) Taken from a sign posted by the tree... "Sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists, the Bo tree is the most revered tree in the world.  The Buddha meditated for six years under a Bo tree and there received the enlightenment."
A Bo Tree (Ficus religiosa) Taken from a sign posted by the tree... "Sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists, the Bo tree is the most revered tree in the world. The Buddha meditated for six years under a Bo tree and there received the enlightenment." | Source
A dried Bo leaf at the Selby Gardens
A dried Bo leaf at the Selby Gardens | Source

The Moreton Bay Fig Tree roots were a thing of beauty. They were large enough to sit upon, in some cases rising up several feet above the ground. The roots of this tree are definitely distinctive and different from most other tree roots.

This photo shown below was used as subject matter for a limited edition lithograph that I produced.

Moreton Bay Fig Tree at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Moreton Bay Fig Tree at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens | Source

There were surprises like a sculpture found amidst the interior of a banyan tree. The bamboo forest was tall and offered a shaded rest spot on a warm, sultry day. The koi pond was serene and the colorful fish swam amidst the tropical foliage surrounding that spot with the sound of a small waterfall in the background.

Overall, exploring the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a most pleasant experience, as it is filled with the largest collection of epiphytes that you will probably ever see on American soil.

The other varied plant collections such as the banyan trees and stands of towering bamboo add to the magnificence of this Sarasota garden. I would heartily recommend a visit if you enjoy touring gardens and are in this area of Florida.

Have you ever visited the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens?

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If you cannot get there in person be sure to look at this fantastic video!

Questions & Answers

    © 2009 Peggy Woods

    Comments are welcomed.

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      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        11 months ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Roberta,

        I am so pleased that you enjoyed this article about the Marie Selby Botanical Garden. Hopefully you will see it for yourself in person someday.

      • RTalloni profile image

        RTalloni 

        11 months ago from the short journey

        This post makes me want to pack up and go there now. Thanks for sharing some history of the Selby's lives and Marie's work with your photos and vids. It would be amazing to see it all first-hand.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Patricia,

        Have fun with your grandson when you visit these beautiful gardens. Hope you always are surrounded by angels! :)

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Au fait,

        Cypress Gardens was spectacularly beautiful in its day and time. I have not seen it since they turned it into Legoland. I would rather remember its beauty of the past. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is another beautiful garden in the state of Florida. So many attractions in that state! Thanks for the shares.

      • pstraubie48 profile image

        Patricia Scott 

        5 years ago from sunny Florida

        This is such an amazing place. I have written about these same gardens Peggy right here on HubPages. I am going down there with my grandson in a few weeks as the children's section is supposed to be really special. Thank you for sharing this.

        It is one of Florida's special little secrets. Angels are on the way ps

      • Au fait profile image

        C E Clark 

        5 years ago from North Texas

        Gorgeous photos! This looks so interesting. Cypress Gardens are the only gardens of this sort I have ever toured and it was so beautiful and interesting. This looks great too. I've given in another 5 stars, voted up and beautiful/awesome, pinned to my 'Purple II' board, and will share!

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        6 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Maralexa,

        Thanks for your nice comment on this hub about the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. If you paint the orchid at the top, hope you write a hub about it showing it. Would be fun to link to this hub! Thanks for your votes & comment.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        6 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello moonlake,

        I hope that you can wander through a botanical garden someday. The way that you like nature, it would be a treat. Thanks for viewing and commenting on this Marie Selby Botanical Garden in Florida.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        6 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Alicia,

        It is my pleasure to be sharing hubs about beautiful places like the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens with you and others. Thanks for your nice comment.

      • Maralexa profile image

        Marilyn Alexander 

        6 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

        Simply beautiful, Peggy. You and your friend are excellent photographers! I look forward to using the picture of very large orchid as a subject of one of next brush paintings. You write such good hubs I am glad that Cindy brought this one through again.

        Thanks so much for a lovely experience. Up and Awesome!

      • moonlake profile image

        moonlake 

        6 years ago from America

        You have been to so many great places. I always wanted to go to a botanical garden but have never made it to one. Enjoyed your hub. Voted Up

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

        I love visiting botanical gardens, and if I can't visit them in person the next best thing is to read articles like this and look at the photos and videos. I'm very glad that you create hubs about your travels, Peggy - they're always so enjoyable to read! The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens look beautiful.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        6 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi homesteadbound,

        I hope that you do get to see the Marie Selby Gardens someday. While these pictures give you some idea of the beauty to be found there, it is nothing like being there in person. Thanks for your comment.

      • homesteadbound profile image

        Cindy Murdoch 

        6 years ago from Texas

        What a truly great hub, and the pictures were out of this world. If we ever make it to Florida again, I will have to visit these gardens.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Happyboomernurse,

        What a nice thing to say...that the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida was a highlight of your trip to Florida. Obviously you like gardens and I am very happy that you enjoyed them as much as my mother and I did some years ago. Thanks for the comment!

      • Happyboomernurse profile image

        Gail Sobotkin 

        7 years ago from South Carolina

        We just got back from our Florida trip and because of this hub, I had made sure that the Marie Selby Gardens would be on our itinerary and I'm so glad I did. The gardens were as beautiful as the photos in this hub and it was one of the highlights of our trip.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Lisa Marie Knautz,

        Nice that you also have your memories of visiting the beautiful Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida. All of those banyon trees and many types of epiphytes make it really special along with the location. It's a real gem. Glad that you liked this hub. Thanks for the comment.

      • lisaknautz profile image

        lisaknautz 

        7 years ago from Sarasota, Florida

        I have many happy memories of visiting the lovely Marie Selby Gardens. Great article!

        Lisa Marie Knautz

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello Tony,

        I also love visiting botanical gardens and other types of gardens and have seen quite a few on our travels to different areas. This one, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida really did concentrate on all different types of epiphytes which made it special. Thanks for the visit and comment.

      • tonymac04 profile image

        Tony McGregor 

        7 years ago from South Africa

        I love botanical gardens and this one really looks wonderful! Thanks for sharing this. We here in South Africa are also blessed with many botanical gardens and nature reserves.

        Love and peace

        Tony

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello Happyboomernurse,

        My aunt and uncle who used to live part of the year in Florida took us to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota because they thought that we would enjoy it...and we certainly did. The Sarasota area has many treasures! Have fun on your visit.

      • Happyboomernurse profile image

        Gail Sobotkin 

        7 years ago from South Carolina

        Wow Peggy,

        I'm so glad I saw this absolutely awesome hub as my husband and I will be visiting a friend who lives near Sarasota in a few months and I knew nothing about this great treasure that will be nearby. Can't wait to go there. I've bookmarked this hub and rated it up.

        Thanks again for the stunning hubs you do about flowers and plants. I always learn so much from them and it makes me appreciate what I'm seeing so much more.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        8 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello Florida Collection Agency,

        Yes, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens are great. Thanks for the tip regarding the Morikami Gardens!

      • profile image

        Florida Collection Agency 

        8 years ago

        Wow...looks like a great botanical garden. If you are ever in Boca Raton, stop by the Morikami Gardens.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        8 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Billy,

        Happy to hear that you enjoyed these photos and trip idea regarding the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida. We have always enjoyed touring gardens in different areas of the country. Thanks for the visit and comment.

      • billyaustindillon profile image

        billyaustindillon 

        8 years ago

        That fig or banyan tree that you created the lithograph is stunning I have seen a few of these around the Pacific they really are magically and especially the way the light plays on them. More great photos and another great trip idea - thanks Peggy.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        8 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello sarasota-florida,

        What a great place to hold a reunion! As you say, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens are beautiful and certainly large enough to host events like your high school reunion. Have a great time there!

      • sarasota-florida profile image

        sarasota-florida 

        8 years ago from Sarasota Florida

        Very nice hub Peggy! I love the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. It is one of the most beautiful places in Sarasota. We are having an event there this weekend for our 20 year Riverview High Shool reunion.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        8 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello gpetrou85,

        Happy to hear that you liked this hub about the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota. Thanks for the comment.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello WannaB Writer,

        I'm also a "wannab writer." Just something I started since discovering hubpages. Great name!

        If this is the best hub you've read thus far...you are in for a real treat. There are some excellent writers here on hubpages!

        Happy that you liked this hub about the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota. It is just one of many beautiful gardens all across our nation.

        Happy to have you joining us. Will look forward to more articles from you.

      • WannaB Writer profile image

        Barbara Radisavljevic 

        9 years ago from Templeton, CA

        Great hub. Discovered it in a search for something I'm thinking of writing a hub about. I'm new, and so far this is one of the best hub pages I have read.

      • gpetrou85 profile image

        gpetrou85 

        9 years ago from greece

        very nice,good hub.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Thanks Celesta, Glad you enjoyed this hub. Thanks for commenting.

      • profile image

        Celesta 

        9 years ago

        Excellent text and beautiful pictures. It is very educational and interesting. Botany 101!!!!

        I always enjoy reading your hubs. Keep up the good work.

        ?

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello LifesStudent, BTW, I really like the name you have chosen for your hubpage account. The most interesting people are life students! Glad you liked this hub.

        How tall does your bamboo get in pots? Must be a dwarf variety? We used to have a bamboo palm tree in a pot. Got to be about 6 to 7 feet tall.

        Those small orchids must be beautiful when you happen across them in a forest. Nice surprise indeed. Thanks for commenting.

      • LifesStudent profile image

        LifesStudent 

        9 years ago

        A great bunch of photo's Peggy they certainly showcase a wonderful garden. I have to say my favourite is the bamboo! I just love it and have lots of it growing in pots here in Australia. I find it interesting to see such huge flowers on the orchids and of course I've seen them growing but in complete contrast our native orchids are absolutely tiny, with the smallest flowers rising from the forest floor and of course they are a delightful surprise when you come across them. Thanks for the lovely hub.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello Teresa, That is quite the compliment from you! Your hubs are always thoughtful and informative. Thank you.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Pete, My aunt and uncle live not far from there and that is why we have spent some time in that area doing some sightseeing. Hope you got to spend time there also when your brother lived there? Thanks for the comment.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi shamelabboush, I guess if you have not heard these terms previously, it might be a bit hard to understand. Most people know the term orchids, bromeliads, etc. but might not realize that they fall into the category of epiphytes. Thanks for the comment.

      • Teresa McGurk profile image

        Sheila 

        9 years ago from The Other Bangor

        Again, a real education from your delightful hubs. Gorgeous.

      • Pete Maida profile image

        Pete Maida 

        9 years ago

        The piece is very nice and the flowers are beautiful. My brother used to live in Sarasota; its a very nice place.

      • shamelabboush profile image

        shamelabboush 

        9 years ago

        Terminology is a lttle bit difficult, but the pictures are amazing.

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