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A Message from the President and CEO

There is always something new and exciting to experience at Selby Gardens: A summer exhibition of fabulously fun work by iconic Sarasota artist John Pirman. An edible garden that will provide tasty food for visitors and horticultural therapy for its growers. An innovative program that creates tranquil, safe space in the Gardens for our neurodivergent community. We always look forward in meeting our mission. But this year is also one of milestones that deserve pause for reflection.

Several important moments mark the early formation of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, from the discovery that Marie Selby left her property to be a botanical garden for the enjoyment of the public to the first $1 admission charged for a visitor to enter her namesake gardens. But we know 1973 as our founding year, due to the key leadership of Dr. Carlyle Luer, the receipt of tax-exempt charitable status from the IRS, and the hiring of Dr. Calaway Dodson as first executive director shortly thereafter. That means we’ve reached 50 years as a nonprofit organization and botanical garden!

We’ll recognize this golden anniversary in the coming months in conjunction with some major events. Our annual Orchid Show, which opens in October, will focus on our 50 years as a globally important research institution and a locally indispensable cultural attraction. Of course, that will be done against a backdrop of the plant family for which Selby Gardens is best known. Our horticulture and exhibitions teams will outdo themselves with an abundance of orchids for your discovery and enjoyment. We are eager for you to be a part of these celebrations.

During the run of The Orchid Show, we also expect to cut the ribbon on Phase One of our Master Plan for our Downtown Sarasota campus. This project is nothing short of transformative—for Selby Gardens and our community. It will secure our priceless research collections for the future. It will put Sarasota on the world map as a leader in sustainable design. It will accommodate more visitors, including underserved members of our community. I see no better way to celebrate 50 years of Selby Gardens than by opening new, state-of-the-art facilities in which we will thrive for the next 50 years.

You might recall that our Historic Spanish Point campus also just celebrated an anniversary. Last year marked 40 years since the historic site in Osprey opened to the public. On May 1 we reached another, albeit newer, anniversary: three years since Selby Gardens adopted Historic Spanish Point as a companion campus. In that short time, our two-campus organization has accomplished much. It’s largely possible thanks to you and our members—the largest membership base of any such organization in our region.

We promise to keep giving you good reasons to visit and support our bayfront sanctuaries—for another 50 years and more!


Jenn Sig

Jennifer O. Rominiecki, President and CEO