Ah summer, hot muggy days, insects biting and buzzing and the McKee Botanical Garden is alive with water lily and lotus flowers. On a recent visit there, I talked with a few members of the Brevard County Photo Club who were taking pictures and sweltering in the heat. I was especially delighted to see all the lotus flowers. They only bloom for one day and it's hard to catch them at their peak. The water lilies were also blooming in a profusion of color in the many ponds in the gardens. White, yellow, red, pink and purple flowers all compete for your attention.
After walking through the main gardens, I checked out the Bamboo Pavilion. This is the first bamboo structure of its kind in the United States. The construction of the palm roof of the pavilion was supervised by Chief Osceola of the Seminole Indian Tribe. Another treat at Mckee Botanical Garden is the Hall of Giants. This is the one remaining building from the old Mckee Jungle Garden - a favorite tourist attraction in the area from the 1920's to the 1970's. The Hall of Giants features a huge mahogany table that is 35 feet long and 5 inches thick. This table was installed in Mckee Jungle Gardens in 1940. After the gardens closed in the 1970's the table disappeared from the scene. But when the Mckee Botanical Gardens opened in 2001, the table came out of storage and was again installed in the Hall of Giants.
Other features in Mckee's are numerous stone and wood footbridges over the ponds, a royal palm grove, entrance pergola, a gift shop/admissions area, library, restrooms and garden cafe. The cafe is closed from June to September. All in all, Mckee Botanical Garden is a delight to visit. I visit the gardens at least six times a year and see different blooming trees, shrubs and flowers on each visit.
Mckee Botanical Garden is closed on Mondays and major holidays. Hours of operation are from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Tuesday through Saturday and Noon to 5:00 PM on Sunday. The gardens are located at 350 US Highway 1 in Vero Beach and is just south of the traffic light at 4th Street/Indian River Boulevard and US 1. They can be reached at (772) 794-0601 or www.mckeegarden.org