Resting on the shores of Sarasota Bay, you’ll find a tropical urban oasis known as Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
Spend a few pleasant hours wandering the beautifully manicured gardens – and simply forget about what’s going on the world.
Selby is a world-class center for education, research and conservation, recognized around the world for its specialization in epiphytes (or plants that grow on other plants).
The gardens have more than 10 tropical conservatories displaying plants from diverse research, each offering unique botanical wonders you’ll love exploring.
A History of the Gardens
Shortly after completing her musical studies, Marie met William Selby, a partner alongside his father in the Selby Oil and Gas Company, which eventually turned into Texaco.
The Selbys made frequent visits to Sarasota. It was the place for her and her husband to explore the beauty of Florida. Marie had a strong affection for landscaping. In fact, some of the plants she planted are still here for the public to enjoy.
She had a great desire to keep Sarasota a beautiful and green place, so was troubled to witness the onslaught of high-rise construction later in her life. The row of bamboo on the bay side of the property was planted by Marie to block her view of the offending condominiums.
Mrs. Selby died in 1971 at the age of 86. Upon her death, Marie left her home and property to the community with the aim of forming a botanical garden. The gardens opened to the public in 1975 – since doubling in size from seven to nearly 15 acres.
While you’re here, explore the Payne Mansion originally owned by friends and neighbors of the Selbys, which now stands as a Museum of Botany & the Arts. Its garage was transformed into the Carriage House, today serving as a quaint teahouse. Outside the mansion, there is an open-air butterfly garden, well loved by children.
With sunset celebrations, garden music series, wine tastings and more, it’s easy to understand why more than 200,000 visitors make Selby a part of their Sarasota stay each year.