VERO BEACH – In appreciation of the community’s support of McKee since 1932 and in recognition of Vero Beach’s Centennial Celebration, admission to the Garden is only $1 during McKee’s Community Appreciation Days on Friday, Oct. 5th and Saturday, Oct. 6th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The last admission ticket is sold at 4 p.m.
McKee Botanical Garden has been an important historical landmark of Vero Beach since the 1930s, not long after Vero Beach was established as a City of Florida, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and endorsed by The Nature Conservancy as a project of national significance.
In 1932, land developers Arthur McKee and Waldo Sexton opened McKee Jungle Gardens on an 80-acre tropical hammock in Vero Beach, Florida. Their unique vision to enhance the property’s natural beauty by augmenting native vegetation with ornamental and exotic plant specimens from around the world drew passers-by from throughout the state, as well as from out-of-towners traveling down US Highway 1. By the 1940s, McKee Jungle Gardens was the third largest tourist attraction in Florida, welcoming more than 100,000 visitors each year to view the Gardens’ award-winning orchid collection, unusual fly-trapping pelican flowers and exotic wildlife. In fact, it was said that one would need to travel 25,000 miles to find all the rare plants seen in one hour at McKee. It became a hallmark of Vero Beach and remains so today as McKee Botanical Garden.
Today, McKee Botanical Garden remains true to its jungle heritage, featuring 10,000 native and tropical plants as well as a collection of more than 100 waterlilies – one of the State’s largest. The property houses two historic structures, the Spanish Kitchen and Hall of Giants, both meticulously restored to the vision of original founder and designer, Waldo Sexton.
More than just a destination for horticulture, McKee offers a wide variety of cultural and educational programs including lectures, workshops, special events and traveling art exhibitions. Since its reopening in 2001, McKee Botanical Garden has welcomed over 300,000 visitors from 26 countries and all 50 states, garnering national attention for itself and Vero Beach in publications such as Better Homes and Gardens, Coastal Living, House and Garden, Southern Living and The New York Times. It was named one of 22 Secret Gardens – Soothing Places of Surprise and Sanctuary in the U.S. and Canada by National Geographic Traveler, and was recognized as one of the Top 10 Most Beautiful Gardens That Florida Has To Offer by TripsToDiscover.com.
Today, McKee has embarked upon a new journey with the establishment of the Children’s Garden at McKee, set to be a premier feature of Vero Beach for its next 100 years and beyond. As a natural compliment to McKee’s existing offerings, the Children’s Garden at McKee is under construction and expected to open in summer 2019. The Children’s Garden will provide not only an engaging place for families, but expanded educational opportunities and programs to encourage young visitors to engage with nature as its future stewards. Visitors can witness the ongoing construction while strolling the pathways at McKee.
McKee’s Garden Café, operated by Sealantro, will be open during Community Appreciation Days from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will feature a special menu. The Café will officially open for the season beginning Nov. 1. They will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, featuring an array of hot and cold sandwiches, salads and house made soups with an abundance of daily specials including vegan and gluten free options.
About McKee Botanical Garden:
McKee Botanical Garden is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to nurture and enhance a historic garden in a unique tropical setting for the education, enjoyment and enrichment of all. McKee Botanical Garden is located at 350 US Highway 1 in Vero Beach.
This article was distributed through Treasure Coast Business, a news service for the readers and advertisers of Indian River Magazine.