An abundant collection of floral portraits

A Lasting Gift. A Treasured Legacy.

Shortly after his retirement in 2003, Philip Knapp Nelson was selected to photograph and catalog the entire living collection at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida. Dr. Nelson began his assignment in June of that year. Over the next eight years he photo-recorded multiple views of 6,800 living specimens of the estimated ten thousand plants at Selby Gardens. More...

Using his Canon cameras and a variety of specialty lenses, he took almost 29,000 photos of specimens ranging in size from towering trees on the campus to the tiny Harrisella porrecta, a leafless, Florida native orchid that’s barely visible to the naked eye. With a talent for capturing stunning detail, Dr. Nelson’s photographs were soon featured on the covers of prominent magazines, including the Journal of the Bromeliad Society, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Orchids and the annual Selby Calendars.

Many of the plants photographed by Dr. Nelson are rarely seen by the public. In their native habitat, they grow as, tiny, terrestrial or epiphytic plants in deep rain forests, high mountains, or other remote locations. To ensure their continued survival, the staff at Selby Gardens work painstakingly to maintain each specimen in a greenhouse that meets its needs for temperature and humidity. When in bloom, the smallest are featured in a special, lighted area of the display greenhouse. As a result, Dr. Nelson’s photographs are realistic, breathtaking works of art that are a lasting legacy for those who appreciate the natural wonders of the world.

If you are interested in using or purchasing any of these photos please contact Dr. Phil Nelson.