Selby Gardens beautifies the Suncoast

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Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2014 12:58 pm

NOTE: This is the first installment of what promises to be a long and successful partnership between ABC 7 and Selby Gardens. Our combined goal is to benefit the community by providing useful information about our surrounding environment here on the Suncoast. Without further ado, get to know Marie Selby Botanical Gardens ...

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a series of smaller gardens within one big one located on the shores of Sarasota Bay. What makes Selby unique is that it is one of the only botanical gardens in the world specializing in epiphytes. Epiphytes are plants that grow on something -- trees, rocks, branches, surfaces, etc -- but don't take any nourishment from their host. They are marvelously adaptive plants that are resourceful enough to climb up into the tree canopies seeking light. They also capture and store rainwater, and are innovative in finding sources of food.

Sarasota’s climate makes it a suitable venue for hosting an epiphyte showcase like Marie Selby Botanical Gardens because many epiphytes live in tropical habitats. Orchids, ferns, bromeliads and gesneriads make up the plants found among the world’s epiphytes. As rainforests around the globe are in decline, our scientists are in a race against time to visit these “wildest places on earth” to study surviving plants and assess the effects of human behavior on the plants and animals living in these forests.

Selby Gardens’ botanists identify, collect and maintain inventories of living and preserved plant specimens to share with international research students and professionals. The horticulture team cultivates and maintains the rare, tropical plants contained in Selby Gardens’ living collection and displays them for visitors to enjoy and experience. The educators on staff at the Gardens are responsible for developing programs that help guests interpret and further appreciate their surroundings.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND ABOUT THE SELBYS

  • Marie and William Selby moved to Sarasota from Marietta, Ohio, in the 1920s.
  • The Selbys loved being outdoors and appreciated the natural environment. Marie planned the Selby property’s landscaping, creating a large rose garden. Today, the banyan grove she planted in front of her home and the bamboo she planted to block her view of development across the bay still remain.
  • Before Marie died in 1971, 15 years after her husband, she bequeathed her property to establish a botanical garden “for enjoyment by the general public.” On July 7, 1975, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens officially opened its doors to the public.
  • In November 2013, an all-new interactive feature opened– the Ann Goldstein Children’s Rainforest Garden. Designed as a place for children and families to explore and develop a life-long appreciation for rainforest plants and habitats, it also features interactive stations and ongoing educational programming throughout the year.

Selby Gardens is ever-changing and ever-growing, and we look forward to sharing our love of the plants and the natural world each week.

 

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