Selby Gardens is a sprawling Sarasota gem that immerses visitors in public art and nature. Yes, it’s in Sarasota, and YES, it’s worth the drive from Tampa. The team behind Selby just revealed renderings for Phase One of its Master Plan that will add 188,000 square feet of new facilities to its downtown Sarasota campus (1534 Mound Street).
Fair warning: this spot isn’t a hidden gem or a secret. In fact, this oasis attracts more than 300,000 visitors annually and is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Selby is definitely up there with Bok Tower Gardens and Sunken Gardens as one of the dreamiest destinations in the Sunshine State.
Selby will be the first net-postive energy botanical garden in the world
Here’s what’s coming on January 11, 2024 according to Selby’s most recent post:
- The cutting-edge Morganroth Family Living Energy Access Facility (LEAF), which houses parking, a garden-to-plate restaurant, a new giftshop, vertical gardens, and a nearly 50,000 square-foot solar array that will make Selby Gardens the first net-positive energy botanical garden complex in the world;
- The state-of-the-art Steinwachs Family Plant Research Center secures irreplaceable scientific resources in a hurricane-resilient structure and provides a window into once behind-the-scenes world-class research. The facility contains the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Herbarium and Laboratory (housing preserved collections of more than 125,000 dried and pressed plant specimens and molecular scientific work), as well as a research library (with priceless volumes dating to the 1700s), spirit laboratory (with more than 35,000 specimens preserved in fluid—the second largest collection of its kind in the world), conference rooms, administrative offices, as well as a rooftop garden and solar array;
- The open-air Jean Goldstein Welcome Center consists of a ticketing pavilion, welcome gallery, and welcome theater to properly accommodate and orient guests;
- a major stormwater management system to divert and clean millions of gallons of water each year before it is returned to Sarasota Bay;
- a publicly accessible multiuse recreational trail enabling multimodal transportation to the campus and the bayfront;
- off-site roadway improvements, which will also make access easier and safer;
- and a number of new garden and water features with more open space, including a Lily Pond Garden, Glades Garden, and the restoration of historic Palm Avenue as a pedestrian-only promenade.
Employing the latest green technology, Phase One is powered by the Barancik Foundation and will embody many of the latest sustainability concepts. Going above and beyond LEED certification, Selby Gardens is seeking “Petal” certification through The Living Building Challenge of the International Living Future Institute.
A new edible rooftop garden in downtown Sarasota
A key component is the new restaurant, called The Green Orchid, which will be the world’s first net positive energy restaurant entirely utilizing solar power. The restaurant will be operated by Michael’s on East and will feature a rooftop edible garden that will provide fresh produce for the menu. The edible garden is being planned, planted, and maintained by Operation EcoVets, a nonprofit organization that provides personal, educational, and professional growth opportunities for veterans.
From a Selby Gardens blog post: Phase One of the Master Plan has been made possible by private contributions to Innovating A Greener Future: The Campaign for Selby Gardens chaired by Selby Gardens’ Trustees and leadership donors Jean Weidner Goldstein, Cornelia Matson, and Pauline L. Wamsler. More than $57 million has been raised, with $51.6 million being directed to the capital needs of Phase One. The Phase One target was reached thanks to a Campaign Capping Challenge facilitated by a group of loyal Selby Gardens champions and Willis Smith Construction to provide a triple-match for the last contributions needed. The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation made the final gift of $100,000 to complete the challenge.
A holiday lights extravaganza at Selby Gardens
Tickets just went on sale for Lights in Bloom, an annual event that completely decks out the campus in fabulous lights. The event runs from December 8 through January 3 and tickets are available online. The festitivies run from 6:30pm-9pm each night at the Downtown Sarasota campus.
General admisson to Selby Gardens is $26 for adults and $11 for kids 5-17. Admission is free for members, and $11 for member guests.
Selby also operates a Historic Spanish Point Campus at 401 North Tamiami Trail in Osprey. You can find out admission info and operating hours online.
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