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Botanical Garden Is Perfect for Mother’s Day Outing

selby gardens botanical garden

By Kathy A. Megyeri
The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in downtown Sarasota is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display and study of epiphytic orchids, bromeliads, ferns, gesneriads, and tropical air plants.  

On 15 acres overlooking scenic Sarasota Bay, this Smithsonian affiliate is wowing visitors with its recent refurbishment completed in time to celebrate its 50th year. Benefactor Marie Selby, a passionate gardener left her home and its acreage “for the enjoyment of the public” along with a $2 million endowment.  

The banyan grove she helped plant almost a century ago is certainly one of the centerpieces. There are also stunning walkways through a glades garden, a desert oasis, a mangrove cluster, a lily pond, koi pond, a plant research center, an herbarium with its preserved collection of 125,000 dried and pressed plant specimens, a “spirit” laboratory where 35,000 specimens are preserved in fluid, and one of the finest botanical libraries in the world. 

Related: Your Perfect Gift Guide to Mother’s Day

A new onsite restaurant, the Green Orchid, runs entirely off solar energy that powers the electric kitchen. Produce is grown on its rooftop garden by EcoVets, a not-for-profit serving military veterans. The 50,000 sq. ft. solar arrangement is the first net-positive energy botanical garden in the world and with its hurricane resilient buildings and its storm water management system, the complex is a state-of-the art facility. The welcome center and orchid lined gift shop highlight the area’s regional history and Florida’s native flora; free parking adds to a lovely Mother’s Day outing.  

On the horizon for the museum and gardens are a 25,000 square foot greenhouse, learning pavilion, sea wall refurbishment, and renovation of the Payne Mansion that serves as an indoor exhibition space. Since Selby Gardens acquired the nearby historic Spanish Point Campus in Osprey, this flower lovers’ paradise has made Sarasota a destination site for naturalists the world over. Selby.org