I’ve moved a little further south and west in Florida to Bradenton. Today we visited the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota. There is a stunning epiphyte house with some amazing orchids. I had no idea that epiphytes make up 10% of all plant species. I also saw a staghorn fern that looked as though it had been mounted by a taxidermist.
Out in the grounds the tropical varieties were almost surreal. I was taken especially by the banyon trees that seem to eat up the landscape with their wide trunks and descending root system. Like many outdoor venues, this garden rents out for weddings on the grounds. They have built the wedding pavilion out near the water under a Bo tree (ficus religiosa.) It is said to be the tree under which the Buhdda became enlightened and has been a spot under which many couples have exchanged their vows. When the tree was uprooted when tropical storm Gabrielle struck in 2001, a marine barge helped to upright the tree and it has regained its footing in this sacred space at the end of the garden.
I also added a bottle palm to my list of palm trees and found a handy and inexpensive guide to palms in the bookstore.