One of the most well-known tourist attractions in Vero Beach is McKee’s Botanical Gardens. They are listed on the Register of Historic Places and came about as the brainchild of Waldo Sexton and Arthur McKee. McKee’s grounds are small and it only takes about an hour or so to tour. I would recommend visiting if you are in the Vero Beach area.
McKee’s Botanical Gardens is spread over 18 acres, all devoted to plants and flowers. My favorites were the 300+ water lilly plants in bloom amidst the many ponds. Currently in bloom are Waterlillies, historic pineapples, Bromeliads, Plumbago, and Medinilla Myriantha.
The Bamboo Pavilion was built in Colombia, disassembled and shipped by boat to Florida, where it was rebuilt at McKee’s Botanical Garden. It contains 350 stems of lignified bamboo and the roof made of over 9,000 Sabal palm fronds. Seminole Indian Chief Leroy Osceola supervised the attaching of the fronds process. There are many types of nature to admire in the botanical garden, including butterflies, dragonflies and birds, as well as many whimsical stone foot bridges crossing over to reflective ponds.
Along the paths you will see many gems such as bromeliads, orchids, gorgeous sculptures, and palms. The Hall of Giants contains a single piece of mahogany carved into a tabletop that is 35′ long. It is beautiful! I personally think the landscaping was up to par, but there could stand to be many more signs labeling the species. Visiting the botanical gardens is a great way to get out and see nature, plus an alternative to typical beach attractions. You might even catch an art class, yoga session, or cooking class at the gardens. Check McKee’s Botanical Gardens Facebook page for upcoming events.
Osceola Bistro manages the onsite restaurant and offers a selection of salads, entrees, sandwiches, and snacks. Outdoor seating is available. McKee’s Botanical Garden gift shop has unique treasures and some plants for sale as well. My friend John purchased a yellow Christmas cactus to take home to West Virginia.
Trivia about Bamboo: There are over 1,000 species of bamboo, varying in height, color, size and texture. Buddha Belly, a popular bamboo, is known for the swollen nodules on its stems (culms). Bamboo is a type of grass and is harvested to make floors, fabric, and furniture. It either exhibits a “running” or ” clumping” growth habit. The running types quickly take over a space and move into nearby places as well. Clumping types send up new shoots next to the old ones. The giant bamboo is known for its edible shoots.
McKee’s Botanical Garden Photo Gallery:
McKee’s Botanical Gardens is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10-5 and Sundays 12-5. The admission prices are $12 for adults, $11 for seniors and youth, and $5 for children over 3.
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