Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

The weather throughout our  trip was absolutely beautiful. Mostly in the 70’s, getting cooler in the evenings . However, this morning, as I looked out our bedroom window the waves were crashing harder and the sky was cloudy and gray. Shortly after we were on our way the rain started. This was not good as we had planned to stop at Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida, a couple of hours away. We drove through light rain then at times heavier and periods of dry, with a slight hit of sun.  As we approached Sarasota the sky was looking lighter and by the time we got to the gardens the sun was out. Luck was really with us.

The Selby Botanical Gardens came to be in the 1970’s when Marie Selby died, leaving the seven-acre peninsula tract containing her home and gardens to the community of Sarasota County for use as a Botanical Garden. It was decided that the garden should specialize in epiphytic plants, that is a plant that grows on another plant without taking anything from the host plant, such as Spanish Moss.


This made it a unique garden among the more than 200 botanical gardens in the country.


 Since the garden opened it has expanded to 13 acres. It has a tropical display house, which had a lush rain forest atmosphere,


a bamboo pavilion a banyan grove,


cactus and succulent garden, mangrove walkway, butterfly garden, Koi pond and waterfall


and other outdoor gardens. The garden has a collection of more than 20,000 living plants. It is like an open air museum.

As we walked through the garden my husband said this was like walking through the garden of Eden. At times we came upon an area that opened up to reveal Sarasota Bay.


On the bay side we walked pass a row of towering bamboo which were planted by Marie.  There was a slight breeze at the time and I think it is the first time I have ever heard the sound of the bamboo in the wind. Some of the trees were creaking others sounded like a wind chime, it was very intriguing, like small notes of summer music.


There was a giant Bo tree. A sign explained how the Hindus and Buddhists believe the Buddha meditated under a Bo tree until he attained enlightenment. The interesting thing about it was that in 2001 a hurricane uprooted the tree. However, thru love and the use of technology the arborists were able to save the tree.  They did this by pruning it back and then using a crane to get it upright again and packing soil around the root system. This way they were able to save the tree.


The home was a modest summer-house for the Selby’s. Although Bill Selby was a multimillionaire they lived a quiet and unostentatious life. Today the house has been turned into a café. There was also the Christy Payne Mansion on the property that currently had an exhibit of women contemporary artists.

We have been through so many gardens and each one has it own distinct character. I never seem to tire of touring them. It is very calming and relaxing for me. I particularly enjoy walking through a garden when there aren’t any other people around to break the serenity of the garden.

There were several orchids blooming, some were very diminutive and not as showy as what we picture when we say orchid. However, they still had all the same characteristics of the larger orchids.


What always amazes me when I am in a warm tropical area is to see the plants I have as small indoor houseplants growing outdoors and many sizes larger than my plants. There was also a larger collection of bromeliads. I had one once and managed to kill it over time. Seeing them with their colorful leaves made me want to try growing one again. My husband commented that he would hate to see what our yard and house would look like if we did live in this warm climate year round.

Also on the property was a building where they had tea sampling. I don’t know how this had anything to do with the garden but I enjoyed it, especially the Goji green tea, and came away purchasing several bags of loose tea.








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Bok Tower Gardens is acres of ferns, palms, live oaks and pines creating many shades of green. This must be a beautiful background for the azaleas, camellias and magnolias when they are in bloom. The camellias had lots of buds on their branches but only a few flowers in bloom. The landscape was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr., the son of the planner of New York’s Central Park. Although it is a lot of green plants it is by no means placed haphazardly. You can tell that it is all placed with a design in mine.

The neo-Gothic and art décor Singing Tower Carillon houses one of the world’s finest carillons with 60 bronze bells. The tower is the focal point of the garden.


 Twice a day there is a 25 minute concert of the bells and we were lucky enough to catch one. There are benches scattered about so you can sit and listen. However we walked around the area enjoying different sights and looking up at the tower as we listened to the music. It is a pretty site with a Great Brass Door


and covered in pink, white and gray marble.  The Tower is situated at the highest elevation in Florida. It was designed so that the entire tower would be reflected in the lake in front ot it.


The creator of all this was Edward Bok, a Dutch immigrant born in 1863 and came to the U.S. when he was 6. His motto was that he wanted to make America more beautiful because he lived here. The gardens were established in 1929 as a gift to the American people. At the age of 26 he became editor of the Ladies Home Journal and held that position for 30 years. He also collected autographs and letters in response to his questions. He had autographs from such people as Helen Keller, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Mark Twain. Many of these are in the Library of Congress.

Pinewood Estates is also on the property.


 Unfortunately it was closed when we were there but we were able to walk around the garden surrounding the house and peek into the windows. The home is a Mediterranean style, 20 room mansion. It was originally the winter home of C. Austin Buck, vice president of Bethlehem Steel.

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