Past is a blast at McKee’s Garden & Antique Show

For many of the antique lovers who flocked to the second annual Garden & Antique Show and Sale held recently at McKee Botanical Garden, it was like old home week as they reconnected with antique dealers from all along the Eastern seaboard. The event was a slightly different version of the popular show hosted for 24 years by the Vero Beach Museum of Art.
McKee presented the show in conjunction with another familiar face, Charlie Miller of Miller, Hamilton & Co., based in Chapel Hill, N.C. In addition to superb antique furnishings, paintings, oriental rugs, collectibles, and estate silver and jewelry, the three-day show fittingly also offered garden-related pieces, including seating and statuary, fountains and other garden accessories.
“We had talked to Charlie years ago about doing it here at the garden, but we didn’t want to conflict with the museum,” explained Christine Hobart, McKee executive director. “So when they stopped it, we waited a year or two and decided to pick it up, changing it to garden and antiques. Hopefully we can make this into an annual event.”
The vendors’ antiques were well protected from the elements during the at-times inclement weather, housed either in one of three large, study tents (on raised floors in the grassy areas) or inside the Education Building and Hall of Giants.
“These tents are very high grade, so we haven’t had any problems in that regard,” said Miller, noting they were well on track to best last year’s 2,800 attendees. “The botanical garden has been extremely supportive; lots of humor and an easy working relationship, so that has made it a joy.”
Miller said that many of the vendors had no issue adding a garden component, adding “almost all of them, especially if they have a brick and mortar store, have a diversified inventory.”
There were even a couple of plant vendors – Valkaria Gardens and Indian River Orchids – and a honey vendor, Florida’s Finest Raw Honey.
Speaking of honey, numerous bees happily buzzed about one of McKee’s many remarkable plants –gorgeous jade vines dripping down from the entrance pergola.
“We’ve always had them, but not this profuse,” said Ro Van Dright, McKee volunteer coordinator, remarking on the vines.
While the bees are drawn by the nectar and artists and photographers to their beauty, Van Dright said people have a particularly hard time trying to capture the plant’s unusual color. It’s a palette seemingly replicated only by Mother Nature.
Visitors actually enjoyed two shows – three if you count McKee’s spectacular flora – as they could also view the Seward Johnson ‘Celebrating the Familiar’ sculpture exhibit, on display until April 28.
McKee will host its ninth annual Fairy & Pirate Festival from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 6, and the 15th annual Waterlily Celebration from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 15. For more information, visit mckeegarden.org.

Photos by: Kaila Jones
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