An abundant collection of floral portraits

The Face Behind the Camera.

Originally from East Norwalk, Connecticut, Philip Knapp Nelson received his undergraduate and medical education at the University of Pennsylvania, where he met his wife, Marion. Dr. Nelson went on to serve his internship and residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Hospital of the U. of Pa. After a year on the Penn faculty, he entered private practice in Williamsport, PA for twenty-one years, before relocating to Sarasota, Florida where he practiced for another twenty-one years prior to retiring in 2003.

Shortly after his retirement, Dr. Nelson was recruited by Bruce Holtz, Director of Collections at Selby Gardens, to photograph and catalog the organization’s entire living collection. As a member of Selby Botanical Gardens since 1981, where he served on the board of directors, and a lifelong photographer, he gladly accepted the assignment.

Throughout his eight years at Selby Gardens he was assisted by staff and volunteers who collected blooming specimens from the various greenhouses for display, assuring him a steady flow of material. He benefited from close contact with Bruce Holst, the collections administrator, Wesley Higgins and Stig Dalstrom of the orchid identification center and, most of all, from daily contact with Harry Luther, world expert on Bromeliads and all things botanical.

His work is a testament to his skill as a photographer and an inspiration to volunteers everywhere who are looking to help make a difference.

A Note from Dr. Nelson:

I had two ends in mind in selecting plants for this website – the beauty of the flowers and the scientific value of the plant representatives. The orchid, bromeliad and gesneriad collections are rich in “type” specimens and I have emphasized this. I intentionally limited the number of commercially hybridized orchids despite their beauty and popularity in the display greenhouse. The cacti, amaryllids and hoyas appear in numbers relative to the total collection. Some families are poorly represented (aroids) or absent (ferns) and this is related to the lack of stunning flowers. The remaining families are represented simply because they are among my favorite pictures.

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