Marie Selby Botanical Gardens – Sarasota

Situated at 900 S.Palm Avenue, Sarasota, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens are a little oasis very close to downtown.

William and Marie Selby moved to Sarasota in the early 1920s.  Marie loved nature and wanted to keep Sarasota beautiful and green.  When she died in 1971 she bequeathed her home and property to the community with the aim of forming a botanical garden and just 2 years later Selby Gardens were founded and opened to the public in July 1975.

We entered through the Welcome Centre, purchasing our admission.  From here we went into the Tropical Conservatory which was awash with many varied and beautiful orchids.  We went on to the Bonsai Exhibit – all labelled with when they were born! and then onto the Cycad Display.  Following the path we saw the Fern Garden and stopped to admire the Koi – with the buddhas and the Japanese bell.  We passed the Bamboo Garden and then onto Banyan Grove which was one of my favourites – the roots of the Banyan tree are absolutely huge, beautiful and fascinating.  We both hugged the hugging tree and explored the Ann Goldstein Children’s Rainforest Garden which had lots of colourful animal sculptures, bridges and steps, waterfall – great fun for all with an adult swing seat to sit in while watching the children play.

From here we continued along the short circular pathway, admiring the Desert garden, on to the Gazebo and then along to the Baywalk which hosted another large buddha and had lovely views across the Bay to Sarasota and Armand.  In the Mangroves we saw several birds including Pelican, Osprey and a Belted Kingfisher.  We rejoined the pathway and passed the palm and then on to the Payne Mansion where there was an exhibit of old botanical books and paintings plus living plants in jars which are used for research purposes.

We saw the display gardens – although it wasn’t really the right time of year to fully appreciate the Butterfly Garden.

A couple of hours soon passed by in a leisurely relaxed way.  There is a little shop selling garden themed items and plants.  There is also a little cafe for coffee and cake.

At just $20 entry for an adult we would highly recommend it.  For more info go to Marie Selby

2 girls, 1 week in an Orlando holiday villa

Yesterday my friend and I travelled out to Orlando from Manchester for our annual girl’s week of fun in the sun – so I thought this week I’d give you a little debrief and insight into what that means for us.

We were on the morning Virgin Atlantic flight from Manchester.  T2 meet and greet car park – excellent service directly opposite the terminal building.  Security lines were long – you need to allow plenty of time.  We still had time for breakfast and after seeing the line for Frankie & Benny’s opted for Brodericks.

We had a good flight over – 8hrs 20mins arriving on stand 30 minutes early.  The queue for Immigration at MCO stretched from the hall to the aircraft, however, this was due to a new filtering system where ambassadors sorted arivals according to residency and last visit to the States.  We were through quickly and cleared Customs with no lines.

Then on to the car rental desks.  Historically this can be a real time eater with upto 1 hour wait.  This time though I had utilised the new skip the line facility and checked in for the car before I even left the UK.  This meant we walked straight to our car of choice.  We were through the airport by 2.45pm.

So what did we do with the time we gained – we used it wisely and drove straight to Celebration for a walk round the lakes and a scope of Kilwin’s! !

 

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Throwback Thursday – Lake Louisa State Park – Sept 2011

With 6 lakes, 20 miles of hiking trails, picnic pavilion, swimming in Lake Louisa plus sleeping cabins.

Only about half an hour from Walt Disney World you will find the sanctuary and calm of  Lake Louisa State Park.  Take Hwy 192 west from I4 about 9 miles, head North 8 miles on US27 and follow the signs.

We think September is the ideal time to visit, the temperatures are nice, the humidity  has calmed down so the wildlife is usually out an about during daytime hours.  We have seen armadillo, deer, fish and the gopher tortoises.