The mission of McKee Botanical Garden is to nurture and enhance a historic garden in a unique tropical setting for the education, enjoyment and enrichment of all.
The mission of the Children's Garden at McKee is to create a fun and whimsical outdoor destination that inspires imagination and curiosity in children through interaction, education and exploration. The garden will nurture a powerful bond between children and nature.
The History of McKee
In 1932, Arthur G. McKee and Waldo E. Sexton opened McKee Jungle Gardens on an 80-acre tropical hammock in Vero Beach, Florida.
The two land developers employed landscape architect William Lyman Phillips, from the esteemed firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, to design the basic infrastructure of streams, ponds and trails while they focused their efforts on assembling one of the most outstanding collections of waterlilies and orchids – augmenting native vegetation with ornamental plants and exotic specimens from around the world. By the 1940’s, more than 100,000 tourists were visiting the Gardens each year, deeming it one of Florida’s earliest and most popular natural attractions.
In 1932, enhanced by the addition of ornamental and exotic plant specimens from around the world, in a lush landscape designed by William Lyman Phillips, McKee Jungle Gardens opened to become one of the top three tourist attractions in Florida. For the next forty years, the Garden’s award-winning orchid collection, unusual fly-trapping pelican flowers and exotic wildlife captivated visitors.
With a renewed focus on native horticulture, the Garden remains true to its jungle heritage, featuring 10,000 native and tropical plants as well as one of the area’s largest collections of waterlilies. The Hall of Giants and Spanish Kitchen, historic to the Garden, were both meticulously restored to Sexton’s original vision, and in 2002 the United State’s first permitted bamboo structure was built on site.