INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — On June 20, McKee Botanical Garden will host its 11th Annual Waterlily Celebration from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will kick off the Garden’s waterlily blooming season which continues through the summer.
McKee’s waterlily collection is the largest in Florida, comprised of nearly 350 individual plants and 100 varieties. The mild winter, warm spring and successful cultivation efforts by the Garden’s horticulture staff have helped to accelerate this year’s blooming season, and more than three quarters of the Garden’s waterways will be populated with waterlilies, all blooming in an array of vibrant colors.
“Our waterlilies are one of the Garden’s most popular attractions, and we are extremely proud of our collection,” said McKee Executive Director Christine Hobart. “Our annual Waterlily Celebration is a day of delight for photographers, artists and anyone who appreciates the beauty of these unique flowers and would like to learn more about them.”
The gates will open early at 8:30 a.m., allowing visitors a rare opportunity to enjoy an early morning self-guided stroll through the Garden to view night blooming specimens before they retreat. Visitors will learn how to distinguish hardy species from tropicals, as well as techniques for repotting waterlilies during demonstrations held at 9 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. Plant experts will also be on site throughout the morning to answer questions on an individual basis.
Submissions for the Garden’s annual Waterlily Photo Contest will be on display in the historic Hall of Giants, and from 8:30 a.m. until 12 p.m., visitors may cast their vote for their “People’s Choice” favorite. Afterwards, votes will be tallied and the winning photo will be identified along with the first, second, third place and honorable mention winners in the Adult and Youth categories. Prizes range from guest passes to the Garden to an annual family membership for the first place adult winners. Honorable mention winners will get to have their photos featured on the McKee website and Facebook page along with the other winners.
An expanded plant sale featuring two new vendors will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Tillandsia Collection of Jupiter will have an assortment of exotic and species tillandsias for sale, and Tropical Isles Orchids & Bromeliads will offer species and hybrid orchids and bromeliads. In addition, Aquatic Systems and Resources will have waterlilies and aquatic plants for sale, and Everything is Coming Up Flowers will return with a unique variety of vintage garden furniture and whimsical accents.
Osceola Bistro at the Garden Cafe will open at 9 a.m. serving coffee, treats and lunch until 2 p.m.
The 11th Annual Waterlily Celebration will conclude at 2 p.m. Summer admission rates apply.
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 1 in Vero Beach.
Summer admission rates are $10 adults, $9 seniors and $5 children ages 3 to 12. Admission is free for members and children under 3. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m. The Garden is closed Mondays. For more information call (772) 794-0601 or visit www.mckeegarden.org.