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Botanical Gardens: 5 Reasons to Visit

Kristy Dodson
Kristy Dodson

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I don’t think I have ever chosen a vacation around a botanical garden. But…botanical gardens usually take shape on our travel agenda. I have 5 reasons to visit botanical gardens and some reflections that just might have you searching for one near you.

The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens: Many Reasons to Visit

On our recent visit to Sarasota, Florida we visited the Selby Gardens Downtown Sarasota. It is located on 15 acres along the Sarasota bay and is so peaceful-even in the heat of summer. The visit was not planned but you probably know by now that I can’t resist a garden. Not to mention, a break from the beach is welcomed when the temperatures are stuck above 90!

One of the best parts about this botanical garden is its ease and convenience. It was a nice surprise to see that this was nestled within the community. If you go, be sure to take a few minutes to drive the surrounding streets. There are so many amazing homes. I loved that there were modern homes mixed right in with historical homes. The garden campus spills out into the streets and parking lots. It is obvious that they take pride in their community and work hard to keep it beautiful. I sure wish I had taken pictures as we drove in!!

A Look Inside The Botanical Gardens

Like many botanical gardens, The Marie Selby was created for our enjoyment. On top of that, they contribute to research that helps us all better understand plant diversity, which is essential to life. Sounds technical, but really boils down to preserving life. I offer 5 reasons to visit a botanical garden, but the benefits of local botanical gardens are numerous.

A park bench with a quote from Albert Einstein giving a reason to visit nature and a garden.
Inspiring quotes can be found all around the gardens.

The Tropical Conservatory, A Short Visit to the Tropics

Tropical is exactly what this is! You can feel it as soon as you step inside. It is quiet and almost surreal. There are plants growing from top to bottom. Many plants grow on other plants…these are called epiphytes (I just call them air plants).

A pitcher plant in a botanical garden.
pitcher plant
An air plant in a garden conservatory.
beautiful air plant
A purple orchid in a garden.
orchids were everywhere
A life-size buddha statue in a tropical garden at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
Artwork is nestled everywhere…often in someone’s honor.
A glimpse inside the tropical conservatory.

The Peaceful Koi Pond Inside the Botanical Gardens

The Koi Pond is just outside the conservatory and the breeze from the palms felt so cool after walking in the tropical air. There is a waterfall that would be easy to miss as it is nestled behind some palms and bamboo. I love a water feature in a garden-the sound is so relaxing. While we were visiting, there was an exhibit called In Dialogue with Nature: Glass in the Garden featuring glasswork by Duncan McClellan. There were beautiful pieces in the conservatory and koi pond.

Beautiful glasswork in the gardens: In Dialogue with Nature: Glass in the Garden
A peaceful koi pond with glass artwork inside a botanical garden.
Koi pond with glasswork by Duncan McClellan.
Artwork in a water garden.
Chinese bell at the Koi pond
A wood carving amongst palm trees and bamboo in a Florida botanical garden.
This carving was as big as the palms but created such a peaceful environment.
A waterfall and orange fish planter in a botanical garden are just a few reasons to visit.
The water feature added a peaceful sound to the garden.

The sound of the water was really peaceful once we walked around the koi pond.

A Banyan Grove, Reason Enough to Go!

Banyan grove was stunning. The size of the trees stopped us in our tracks. We expected to see amazing plants and flowers but were not expecting to be so stunned by the trees! The peaceful walks by the Sarasota bay were cool and relaxing.

The large roots of a banyan tree.
The roots of the banyan trees were impressive!
A man in front of a large banyan tree inside the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
Banyan Trees created perfect shade.
A man and a woman by the Sarasota Bay reflecting on the reasons to visit Botanical Gardens.
The gardens are right on the beautiful Sarasota Bay.

A Succulent Garden Inside the Botanical Gardens

The succulent garden is also called the desert garden. For some, this may not be impressive but it certainly caught my attention since I don’t see many succulents in Georgia. It really interested me to see the ground cover and precise layouts. Cacti are amazing creations!

5 Reasons To Visit Botanical Gardens:

  1. Escape for a day. No matter your lifestyle, an escape from every day is essential. A botanical garden is not a huge commitment of time but offers big rewards. There are no expectations unless you create them. Relax, take a deep breath of clean air (thanks to the plant life!), enjoy friends or alone time, and leave technology behind. I like to find a bench in one of the gardens that grow in other countries and take in the experience.
  2. Find inspiration. Plants are not the only things that inspire me when I am in a new garden. Often I walk away with creative ideas for my own space such as…
    • adding a unique piece of art or sculpture to my garden
    • build a trellis as a focal point and grow something unique (maybe beans, trumpet flowers, or jasmine)
    • buy that worn-down bench or chair at the thrift store, give it a coat of paint, or don’t-and set it right in the middle of your garden.
    • put up a fence or gate- this could also be a second-hand item- nothing fancy!
    • add a birdhouse or windchime -all of your senses will thank you.
  3. Discover a new hobby. Botanical gardens are becoming known for their class offerings. The cost is usually low and sometimes free. I have seen classes on beekeeping, building koi ponds, Plein air painting, and even cooking with your harvests.
  4. Broaden your knowledge. Like me, you may go to what you know year after year. Visit a botanical garden and gather details on a unique garden style. Gardens I have enjoyed are herb, edible, succulent, picking/wildflower, water, and Zen gardens.
  5. Rethink date night. Public gardens offer events throughout the year. Look for concerts, wine tasting, art exhibits, dining outdoors, or simply walking the gardens with a friend at dusk. Something as simple as choosing a new time to visit can become a “date”.

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.

Hanna Rion, Let’s Make A Flower Garden (1912)

Stay Curious,

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