• Selby Gardens Opens NEW Rainforest Garden for Children and Families

    Rainforest garden waterfall copySarasota, Fla., November 5, 2013 –Selby Gardens, the world-renowned botanical gardens on the shores of Sarasota Bay, will celebrate the grand opening of the Ann Goldstein Children’s Rainforest Garden on Saturday, November 9, 2013. Festivities will kick off with a special ribbon cutting ceremony, followed by music, games, great food, tours and fun throughout the afternoon.


    The dedication ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. under the banyans in the grove where Marie Selby planted Morton Bay Fig trees in the early 1920’s. The event will feature remarks from Selby leaders, elected officials and Alfred Goldstein who contributed the lead gift in honor of his late wife, Ann. In true Gardens style, dignitaries will cut a vine strung between bamboo followed by self-guided tours of the new garden’s features.


    A public celebration from 1-3 pm will include live musical performances, hands-on demonstrations, lawn games, arts and crafts along with delicious rain forest-themed food available for purchase all occurring in a one-of-a-kind setting: an outdoor, elevated rainforest designed for children and families to interact with and learn from plants.


    “This special garden began as a dream eight years ago and became a reality in 2013 with a generous lead gift from Alfred and Jean Goldstein,” said Thomas Buchter, CEO of Selby Gardens. “Offering a taste of treetop living, this innovative exhibit will provide visitors with countless reasons to return often to deepen their understanding and appreciation for the relationship between plants and people.”


    Highlights include huts with thatch roofs, waterfall cascading down a rock face with lush plants, a suspended rope bridge, caves for exploring, adventure trails, and even a research station to inspire curious minds about what they may find in an actual working research center. Features were purposely designed to simulate one of the wildest places on earth–the tropical rainforest, home to half the world’s known plant and animal species.


    “The design team and construction professionals who helped create this magical destination are to be commended for achieving the impossible,” commented Cathy Layton, Chair of Selby’s Board of Trustees. “They worked tirelessly and cooperatively for eight months to deliver this incredible result. Speaking for the board, we could not be more proud.”


    The five million dollar campaign, which includes one million for endowment, was made possible by the generosity of hundreds of individuals, organizations and foundations. In addition to the Goldsteins, Beverly L. Koski, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Pete Russell and Cathy Layton, the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee and the Dart Foundation were early contributors. Herb Schaal, a leading expert in children’s garden design, was instrumental in developing the concept for the new garden.  The construction team was led by Tandem Construction with Milton Shenk serving as owner’s agent. Certified Pool Mechanics and Hazeltine Nurseries created the stunning rainforest effect with faux rock, tropical plants and water features. Structural, electrical and civil engineering services were provided by Stirling & Wilbur Engineering, Crawford Williams Engineering and George F. Young, respectively.


    The garden provides a unique opportunity to showcase Selby Gardens’ world-class collection of tropical plants and the institution’s in-depth knowledge of rainforest habitats and plants, developed during some 200 expeditions into the wild over four decades.  Lessons, tours, interpretive programing, and activities have been specifically designed to teach children and families about biodiversity, the physical characteristics of a rainforest, and the irreplaceable roles of plants in our lives and our world—all while providing a safe, natural place for young children and their families to develop a life-long appreciation for the living world through outdoor play; discovery and learning.




    About Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

    Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a leader in the display and study of orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads, epiphytes and tropical plants with a focus on botany, horticulture and environmental education. The mission of Selby Gardens is to provide an oasis of inspiration and tranquility, while furthering the understanding and appreciation of plants, especially epiphytes. For more information, please visit www.selby.org.

    Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 900 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Christmas, regular admission $19 (ages 12 and up), ages 4-11 $6, Members and children 3 and under enter free. Contact us at (941) 366-5731 or selby.org.  Get social at www.facebook.com/selbygardens  or www.twitter.com/selbygardens.