Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Everglades and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Ok, so more catching-up to do.  Early this past week I drove up to Sarasota with Ethan to visit the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, which specializes in epiphytes, such as orchids, bromeliads, and air plants (tillandsias).  Driving through the Everglades and Big Cypress National Preserve on the way there was certainly a neat experience.  The land is very flat but there is so much life and beauty in the landscape if one takes the time to look (often from a new perspective); unfortunately, much of this goes unseen to cars speeding by.  Upon arrival at Selby, Tom Buchter, who worked for six years as the Director of Horticulture at the Holden Arboretum and is currently the CEO of Selby Gardens, greeted us.  He gave us a great introduction to the Gardens and saw that we were well taken care of during our stay by arranging time for us with a number of different staff.  We learned all about orchids from Angel Lara, the greenhouse manager; Laurie Birch showed us how plant records are kept and how plants are inventoried; and Bruce Holst, the Director of Research and Collections, gave us a tour of the herbarium (a collection of pressed identified plants) and spirit collection.  The spirit collection is quite interesting because it consists of hundreds of glass bottles containing mostly orchid flowers that are preserved in a mix of alcohol, water, and glycerin.  This is useful because making classic pressed herbarium specimens squashes all parts of a specimen from 3D to 2D.  The staff were all extremely knowledgeable and kind; they have a beautiful place in Selby Gardens, and if you are in the area and have some time, I would highly recommend stopping by.  The trip provided me with a lot of ideas for the Gardens here at Kona Kai, including the development of labels and signs for our collections, care for our orchids, resources for plant information, and the possibility of developing a small herbarium.

Rick Hederstrom
Associate Director

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