More Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Events of Thursday, March 28 to Monday, April 1, 2013
In our last post, we described our tour of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Also owned by the same trust that operates the gardens and included with admission to the gardens is the Christy Payne House. The home was built by Christy Payne, whose father was one of the men who helped John D. Rockefeller build Standard Oil back in the early 1900s. Marie Selby Gardens bought the home in 1973 several years after Christy Payne's death.
The Christy Payne House is located right next door to the Selby Gardens and is connected to the gardens by a path that winds through moss-draped live oak trees.
The house is used as a gallery for changing exhibits of botanical art, and the exhibit that was going on when we were there was Rainforest Masks from Costa Rica. The masks can be traced back to masks that were made by Indians in Costa Rica years ago. The masks are said to have saved the villagers by frightening Spanish Conquistadors back in the 1400s. Making of the masks was almost a lost art when one artist began teaching a group of young men how to carve the masks in the 1990s.
The next photo shows a couple of masks in the process of being carved. First, the design is drawn on a balsa wood blank. Then the details are carved, including hollowing out the back. The masks are finished with brightly-colored acrylic paints.
Many of the modern masks have grotesque faces on them that are inspired by the original Indian masks. However, when the art form was rejuvenated in the 1990s, designs using natural elements such as birds and flowers were introduced.
The masks with birds and flowers have a miniature of one of the original-style masks on them somewhere like the one at the bottom of the bird mask shown below.
As we walked the path from the Christy Payne House back to the visitor center and the garden exit, we were again reminded of how the gardens use colored foliage and contrasting textures.
While we are happy we were able to finally visit Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and while it is a very well done garden, we were a little disappointed. The use of tropical foliage such as is used at Marie Selby creates a more serene atmosphere as opposed to a garden with a showy display of flowers that creates more excitement. We like both types of gardens; but, unfortunately, we didn't experience much of a serene atmosphere at Marie Selby Gardens because there was a school bus full of students running wild on the lawn and screaming at the top of their lungs for the first part of our visit; and after they left, all we could hear was the construction equipment building the new Children's Rainforest Garden over near the banyan grove. More likely than not, a visit at a different time without the school kids and construction would have been more enjoyable for us. We also thought the $17 admission price at Marie Selby was a little high compared to other gardens we have visited.
From the gardens, we decided to take the scenic route back to Bushnell so we headed north a short distance and took the bridge over to Lido Key, which is one of several barrier islands that lie just offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. We then crossed another bridge from Lido Key to Longboat Key, which is another barrier island that is about 10 miles long. We enjoyed seeing all the fancy beach-front homes and condos.
When we got to the northern end of Longboat Key, the drawbridge to the next barrier Island, Bradenton Beach, had been raised to allow a couple of boats to pass. That gave us an opportunity to get out of the car for some photos.
Looking to the left toward the Gulf, we could see someone parasailing.
We crossed from Bradenton Beach back to the mainland at Cortez and headed east toward I-75. We had deliberately planned to pass right by Anna Maria Oyster Bar so we could stop for lupper. Anna Maria has a total of three locations in and around Bradenton, and they specialize in seafood much like the Shrimp Basket Restaurants that we like so much in lower Alabama.
As soon as we were seated, we fell in love with the tables. The wooden tabletops had depressions scooped out of them that were filled with sand and seashells. The depressions were then filled level with clear resin that totally encapsulated the shells resulting in a perfectly smooth, flat tabletop.
We also thought the roll of paper towels hanging above each table to use as napkins was a novel idea.
Lunches run from about $8 to $11 and include burgers and salads in addition to a large variety of seafood. Paul had the early bird special of all-you-can-eat fish and chips for $8.75 and Margery had fried clam strips for $8.99.
The fish was moist and flaky on the inside and crunchy on the outside, and the clams were sweet and tender and were the best we have ever had! Paul helped Margery finish her huge basket of clams, so he didn't have any room for seconds on the fish. Prices at Anna Maria Oyster Bar are similar to those at the Shrimp Basket, but we would have to say Anna Maria is definitely a cut above in decor, food quality and food quantity.
We spent the next few days relaxing and beginning to get ready for our departure the following Tuesday. We also made plans for Easter with our friends, Pat and Mike. We'll tell you about Easter and our trip to our next destination in our next post.