As our Florida road trip continued towards the second destination, we had already seen and explored a number of towns. While we found some cool spots, we were still waiting on that first gem, that kind of place that wows you. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota turned out to be that first great stop. Gold, as Kristyn put it.
The botanical garden is an amazing hidden oasis located on Sarasota Bay at the edge of the urban center. The expansive 7 acre site is the host to a beautiful and diverse collection of tropical plants including the most diverse collections of bromeliads and epiphytes in the world. Let’s just say even in the middle of the winter, it was pretty spectacular, especially for us plant geeks.
The area we first wandered through were the greenhouses. This was the central location for the huge collections of epiphytes, which are plants that grow on other plants using them for support without harming them. They get nutrients and water from the air, rain, and debris falling into them. With an easy to care for reputation like that, we definitely had to get our hands on some ourselves.
The greenhouses were overflowing with over 10,000 species of plants. There were many orchids in bloom and interesting plants everywhere. Check this staghorn out, puts our mounted boy to shame.
They even had parasitic plants like these pitcher plants. Pitcher plants have a leaf that has been modified into a trap and digest insects (like a venus fly trap). I would love to have a hanging basket of Nepenthes like these.
Just outside of the greenhouses was the small but very impressive bonsai collection. I found a few old favorites like the Brazilian Rain Tree. Once upon a time, I had a few baby Rain trees growing hoping to start a bonsai collection myself.
Walking through the gardens felt like just going from one type of tropical ecosystem to another. We even ran into a few new friends. This bird seemed to follow us around for a while.
The gardens even featured a large koi pond surrounded by massive oaks covered in all types of epiphytes. The layers of plants flowed continuously from canopy to groundcovers. This garden is the definition of lush.
I always appreciate a big beautiful staghorn fern, as you know.
They even had a young edible garden already providing a bounty. We found blooming almond, fruiting coffee, lemons, and limes. Plus, there were many herbs and annual vegetables and so much more. This is a photo of the pineapple and starfruit.
Being the home to such a large collection of epiphytes, Marie Selby Botanical Garden does not disappoint. I only wish I could grow such beauty everywhere like they do.
After spending way too long drooling over all the beauty, it was hard to leave. When we finally did, it wasn’t empty handed. The gift shop featured a great assortment of orchids, bromeliads, and ferns. Our new additions spent the next few days in a prime spot in our hotel room….in our new flower pot.
Don’t worry, there is much more to come. Get ready for some South Florida adventures.