Sanibel Moorings offers public tours
By Tammy Ayer

As the master gardener at Sanibel Moorings Resort, Anita Marshall makes her own special contributions to the lush greenery covering the 6-acre property.

She’s cultivated and expanded clusters of popular natives such as hibiscus, orchids and bromeliads. And every Wednesday morning, visitors tour the Tropical Gardens on this property that’s home to 122 individually owned condominiums.

Southwest Florida features countless properties bursting with botanical glory, but few get to enjoy them because they are private. That’s something that makes Sanibel Moorings unique, along with a recently achieved goal — American Public Gardens Association certification, which Sanibel Moorings attained earlier this month.

“We’re super-proud that it has happened and we don’t mind bragging about it,” said Laura Monsrud, general manager.

The organization, founded in 1940, has 500 member institutions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and seven other countries, according to its Web site. It’s considered among the top associations for public gardens in North America.

Marshall has worked as the master gardener at Sanibel Moorings since July 2008. She’s the latest of several gardeners who’ve worked for the property since it was developed in 1974, Monsrud noted.

“She realized the uniqueness and diversity of all the plants we have and she’s added to our plantings … (Marshall) came on board and said, ‘Do you guys know what you have here?’”

And that’s when the lengthy certification effort began.

“You have to have diversity and maturity and variety,” said Marshall, who led the charge for certification after realizing the depth of the botanical glory that previous gardeners had left.

Sanibel Moorings has always offered garden tours to its members; public tours began about a year ago, and visitors from all over are enjoying their time in the sun.

So does Marshall.

“We’re really having fun with it,” she said.

Additional Facts:

What: Guided Native and Tropical Garden Tour at Sanibel Moorings Resort with master gardener Anita Marshall

When: 9 a.m. Wednesdays; walking tours take two hours and are limited to 15 people. Self-guided tours are also an option, with paid parking

Where: 845 E. Gulf Drive, Sanibel.

Cost: $5 per person

Reservations: They’re required. Call 472-4119.

Web: sanibelmoorings.com