Absolutely inspirational ! Save an entire day for Selby Botanical Gardens and you will see what we mean.It is a must see for visitors, and photographers who will appreciate the buildings, plants, birds, butterfly garden, exhibits and even the sunsets with their extraordinary Sarasota Bay views. Selby is not the only garden worth seeing either.

Be sure to take a trip out to Crowley Nursery and Gardens and don't forget Jungle Gardens. You don't have to be a horticulturalist to appreciate the variety of species on view. These gardens are bursting with the sights and smells of exotics(controlled) and natives.For a more pastoral stroll through history, visit Mable Ringling's Rose Garden on the grounds of the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art. You can stop in and see the Circus Museum, a very impressive Art Musem and Ca d'Zan, the Sarasota Bayfront home of John and Mable Ringling.

Just open your eyes because everyday here is a walk through a tropical garden paradise.

Check It Out!

Crowley Nursery & Gardens
16423 Jomar Rd
Sarasota FL
Phone: 941-322-0315

Offers a small petting zoo and butterfly garden for your enjoyment, plus edibles, oddities, vines, water gardens and exotics for sale.

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
Mable Ringling's Rose Garden
5401 Bayshore Rd
Sarasota FL
Phone: 941-358-3180

Admission: Adults $20, seniors $17, students (with identification) $7, children 6-17 $7, Florida teachers with identification $7, active U.S. military personnel $7; free for members and children 5 and under accompanied by an adult.
General admission includes the Ringling Museum of Art, Ca d'Zan mansion, Circus Museum, Mable's Rose Garden and grounds.
Open seven days a week from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.

Most people think of John Ringling (1866-1936) as simply a circus owner, although we doubt there was anything “simple” about owning the largest circus on the planet at the time. Ringling’s passion for collecting art remains his legacy, and this museum, located on the grounds of the Ringling home, remains his living memorial. Apparently inspired by his card-playing partner, Stanford White, an architect and socialite (both Ringling and White were major shareholders of Madison Square Gardens) whose way of life included a keen knowledge of art, John Ringling took it upon himself to learn everything he could about the subject. A mountain of art magazines would be waiting at his bedside for night reading. Ringling’s jaunts to Europe turned into shopping sprees. Trunks full of Old Masters — 500 paintings worth $4 million — were the rewards of his efforts.

John and his wife, Mable (1875-1929), decided to build an art museum in Sarasota in 1925. Plans were drawn for the museum in 1926 by the New York architect John Phillips. His design for the museum reflected the Ringlings’ love for all that was Italian, and recreated specific architectural motifs from their favorite cities of Florence, Milan and Venice. The museum has been described as one of the most beautiful museums in the United States. The building was completed in 1929 and opened for the first time in 1930.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art — the State Art Museum of Florida — holds one of the country’s premier collections of baroque art. Within the collection are five world-renowned “cartoons” (designs for tapestries) by Peter Paul Rubens, along with other major Rubens works, early Italian and northern European Renaissance paintings, and French, Dutch, Flemish and Spanish baroque highlights by such artists as Velasquez, Pietro da Cortona, Piero di Cosimo, El Greco and Poussin.

The estate with its treasures was a gift from John Ringling to the people of Florida at his death in 1936. The art galleries are built around an Italian Renaissance-style courtyard where an evolution of sculpture through many schools and centuries is traced in full-sized reproductions. It contains a bronze replica of Michelangelo’s “David,” which has become the symbol of the City of Sarasota. The West Galleries, a 1966 addition, exhibit special contemporary exhibitions.

Also on the 63-acre landscaped estate are John and Mable Ringling’s Venetian mansion, the Ca d’Zan, built 1924-26, the Museum of the Circus, and Tibbals Learning Center. The museum founder did not include any circus objects in his legacy, so the museum has acquired its collection of costumes, props, wagons and other circus memorabilia through purchases and contributions.

Located in the center of the grounds is the Banyan Cafe, where you can pause for a delicious lunch or refreshments under the shade of huge Banyan trees.
Two museum shops can be found, in the Ca d’Zan and the visitors' pavilion. Admission to the shops is free.

Also not to be missed is Mable Ringling’s Rose Garden, designed in the Italian wagon-wheel style. It was created in 1913, making it one of the oldest rose gardens in the nation. In fact, the garden was planted first, before either the home or the museum was built. Her secret for keeping her roses so beautiful and full of life? Every two years she uprooted the old plants and replaced them with healthy new ones. (A helpful gardening hint: be sure to have circus trunks full of money!) When the state took over care of the Ringling estate in 1936, the garden began to decline. In 1991, the Ringling grounds supervisor organized a donation drive and a massive volunteer effort among the many local gardening clubs. Thanks to their efforts, the Rose Garden is back — dare we say? — in full bloom, and well worth a leisurely walk.

An estimated 250,000 people visit the museum each year. John Ringling’s cultural legacy provides the people of Florida and the world with a splendid and important museum for the public to enjoy — and we sincerely hope they do.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
811 South Palm Avenue
Sarasota FL 34236
Phone: 941-366-5730

Open every day except Christmas from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve the Gardens close at 3:00 p.m.
Adults $17, children 6-11 $6, members free.
Time it takes to see it all: 1½ hours.
Living museum of more than 20,000 plants; world orchid center (about 6,000 on premises); 6,000-square-foot display greenhouse; many rare and endangered species; nine acres of gorgeous grounds and boardwalk by the Bay. Offers continuing classes for children and adults throughout the year in a variety of horticultural subjects, including butterfly gardens Displays include the bamboo pavilion, banyan grove, mangrove walkway, koi pond, succulent gardens, cycad collection, bromeliad display, tropical display house of rare plants, palm collection, baywalk, shoreline habitat, botanical art and photography exhibits in the mansion.

For many Sarasota area visitors and new residents, the next step after getting the fabled sand in their shoes is to get some dirt under their nails. This semitropical locale offers unique opportunities and rewarding challenges to the accomplished home gardener and the novice alike. Sandy soil, periodic salt spray, and alternating months of near drought followed by short-lived but torrential rains, combine to make this area a horticultural dreamscape of epic proportions.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, a nine-acre verdant respite on Sarasota Bay near downtown, serves year-round as a multifaceted resource for observing and learning about the plant life of this area and far beyond our coastal plains. It has been called “a supernova in the constellation of botanical gardens” by syndicated garden columnist Duane Campbell, and is known locally as the place to go for advice, demonstration and inspiration.

Marie Selby, widow of oil magnate and philanthropist William Selby, was an avid amateur horticulturist who bequeathed her bayside family home and grounds to Sarasota. When the Gardens opened to the public in 1975, Marie’s own work provided the foundation for the highly respected institution that now attracts visitors and researchers from all over the world. As part of its commitment to education, Selby Gardens offers a highly competitive international horticultural internship program. Students from South and Central America, the Far East, Europe and Africa work shoulder-to-shoulder with America’s best and brightest to examine threats to and explore solutions for maintaining the delicate balance of plants in nature.

Selby’s tranquil setting on Sarasota Bay serves as a romantic venue for private events of all kinds, including weddings throughout the year. The Gardens staff is eager to assist you and answer your gardening questions.

North American Butterfly Association (Manasota Chapter)

Phone: 807-2416

Sarasota Jungle Gardens
3701 Bayshore Rd
Phone: 941-355-5305

Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Thanksgiving & Christmas Day
Admission: Adults $14; seniors $13; children (3-12) $10; toddlers (2 and under) free. Annual passes available (highly recommended for local families)
Sarasota’s only zoological gardens, with 10 acres filled with native and exotic plants, jungle animals, reptiles and birds, “kiddie jungle” where kids can pet animals and hold birds, butterfly garden, impressive reptile and bird shows. Gazebo available for private weddings. Group discounts available.

Known as “The Gardens,” this attraction was once listed in the Sarasota city records as “an impenetrable swamp.” In the early 1930s, a local journalist named David Breed Lindsay bought 10 acres of it, planning to develop the virgin subtropical jungle into a beautiful botanical garden. Exotic tropical plants, flowers and trees were added to the native flora, as well as tropical birds. A neighbor, Pearson Conrad, who operated a nursery, provided many of the plantings, charted the streams, and planned the ponds. When people began to wander the jungle to see the exotic plants, trees and birds, the men decided in 1936 that an admission fee would be appropriate: 10 cents for children and 35 cents for adults. Four years later, Sarasota Jungle Gardens opened as a tourist attraction.

Today, The Gardens features a wide collection of birds of prey, a colony of endangered Greater American flamingos, other wild fowl, exotic birds, and a collection of alligators, snakes, lizards and turtles. Other areas include a Tiki Garden, Garden of Christ, the Children’s Jungle Playground, Bird Pose Area, the Jungle Trails and Open Gardens

Sarasota Succulent Society
1310 38th St
Sarasota FL
Phone: 941-924-2703

Open Mon., 9 a.m.-noon and the third Sat. of each month, weather permitting.
The Sarasota Succulent Society is a hidden treasure that you may not be aware of. Perhaps best described as “a funky old Florida garden,” the house specializes in succulents (cacti and other fleshy plants that hold water). Prices are beyond reasonable; this is truly an act of love and really not to be missed. Plant sales every year.

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