In front of Payne Mansion, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is our enchanting Butterfly Garden. Children and photographers love spending time in this natural, colorful and layered environment that was designed for the sole purpose of attracting butterflies. The success of this effort is evidenced by the dozens of flittering, gliding guests of honor who can enjoy the garden year-round thanks to Sarasota’s pleasant climate. In addition to its beauty, the garden also helps reestablish the native butterfly population.
Layers of color, shapes and textures playing among dappled sunlight and shadows, the bromeliad garden is a popular source of inspiration for photographers and painters. In fact, bromeliads were among the plants that inspired the mission and focus at Selby Gardens along with two other focal plant families - gesneriads and orchids. The bromeliad family, known to scientists as the Bromeliaceae, is a core interest of research and study here through the efforts of the Mulford B. Foster Bromeliad Identification Center.
Although Selby Gardens features many exotic plant species, one of its most magnificent attractions is based around three species of mangroves native to South Florida. The Steinwachs Family Foundation Mangrove Walkway makes it easy to examine the intricate stem and root systems of the red, black and white mangroves – three distinct plant families genera that adapted differently to the challenges of living along the shoreline. But don’t spend all of your time looking down towards the water, or you’ll miss breathtaking views of Sarasota Bay, Bird Key and downtown Sarasota.
With a variety of indoor and outdoor locations, Selby Gardens is a popular spot to host gatherings from small, intimate parties to full-blown community occasions. One of the most popular locations to exchange vows is the Schimmel Wedding Lawn & Pavilion where hundreds of couples have said “I do” overlooking Sarasota Bay in the tranquil setting of a botanical garden. For more information about space reservation, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ann Goldstein Children’s Rainforest Garden is a newly-created space for children and families to discover and develop a life-long appreciation for rainforest plants. This garden is elevated to allow visitors to experience treetop living. The children’s rainforest garden also features a waterfall, swinging bridges, field research station, an epiphyte canyon, caves for exploring and an adventure trail in addition to an Amazon village with an amphitheater.
Just east of the historic Selby House, now home to the Selby House Cafe, are several banyan trees, some of which were planted by the Selbys nearly a century ago. Their spectacular aerial roots, which grow downward and eventually serve as secondary trunks, allow the trees to spread out laterally and cover vast areas. For centuries, banyans have been used as shaded meeting places where people can converse or relax together, a tradition carried on daily by Selby visitors.
Bounded on each side by a dense vegetation, Pender Path meanders through nearly a dozen different species of tropical clumping bamboos. Bamboo shoots may grow as much as 40 inches per day during their two-month growth period, and then stay the same size for decades. Giant Bamboo, the largest member of the grass family, was planted at the gardens by Marie Selby.
For one of the most peaceful experiences at Selby Gardens, pause along the circular walking trail in the Fern Garden and take a moment to fully appreciate the stunning variety of sounds, scents, colors and textures. A diverse showcase of low-lying ferns serves as a playground for darting lizards, while Australian tree ferns tower above and staghorn ferns make their home in the canopy. The area’s subtropical climate allows ferns from the world’s tropics to flourish.
In the Epiphyte Garden, towering oaks make perfect hosts for a variety of airplants ranging from the locally familiar Spanish Moss to exotic species from Mexico and beyond. Up in the trees, epiphytes exhibit vivid colors and the intriguing fragrances that help attract pollinators and ensure their survival. Nearby, colorful (and hungry) Koi glide through the koi pond, set under a colorful jumble of tropical plants and a gently babbling waterfall.
The conservatory looks and feels like a tropical rain forest, which is where many of its show-stopping orchids and bromeliads were collected by the Gardens’ research and conservation scientists. Arranged in a spectacular collage of color and design, the plants feature marvelous adaptations like insect-catching pitchers and spiny trunks. Some climb upwards to the greenhouse roof, while others cascade over the walls of hanging baskets. Since the plants bloom at different times, each visit will yield a completely new experience.
Located in the northeast corner of the Ann Goldstein Children's Rainforest Garden, a wide variety of live carnivorous plants are showcased in a large raised display area. Most carnivorous plants grow in wetlands and bogs, so the plants are individually potted on a grid designed to allow each pot to sit in the depth of water best suited to the particular plant. Visitors will be fascinated and come away with a keener appreciation of these misunderstood plants.