“To climb a tree is for a child to discover a new world.” Froebel
One of Sarasota’s best kept secrets is the “living” museum at the John Ringling Museum. The John Ringling Museum of Art and Ca d ’Zan (the home he built for his wife on Sarasota Bay) is the legacy that John and Mable Ringling left behind, but among the 66-acre garden of exotic trees and plants at the estate, are 14 Banyan trees which is the largest collection in Florida. Banyan trees represent some of the world’s largest tree girths and the unique growth pattern of their aerial roots and support trunks can cause them to cover an acre of ground in less that a century. I am not certain if the banyan I have pictured here is one or more!
We stumbled on this on a Monday visit to the museum and found that there is a wonderful children’s playground and picnic area that had been built just a few years ago for the children of Sarasota to enjoy for free. And aside from the man-made playground, the children enjoy climbing in the trees nearby, as well.
The Ringling Banyan was cited in the Millennium Landmark Tree Project. The following text about the project is from the America the Beautiful Fund Website:
“America the Beautiful Fund initiated the Millennium Landmark Tree project in the year 2000, with the goal of designating one historic tree in each of the 50 states for preservation in the new Millennium.
This program was supported by a grant from the US Forest Service as part of the White House Millennium Green Initiative. Individuals and their communities were encouraged to seek out the history of the trees in their area, and send a letter describing the type of tree they would like to nominate as well as any historical information pertaining to the tree.
The program was extremely successful in awakening public interest in preserving and protecting these Landmark Trees, which have stood witness to the historic growth of our country.
The Banyan Tree at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida was honored at the National Arbor Day Celebration on April 2000. The tree was given as a gift from Thomas Edison to Harvey Firestone, who gave it to John and Mable Ringling for their Florida garden to see if rubber could be produced in America.”