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VERO BEACH, FL – May 16, 2024 – Mark your calendars for a blooming extravaganza as McKee Botanical Garden prepares to host its much-anticipated 19th Annual Waterlily Festival on Saturday, June 15, from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm. This cherished event promises a captivating display of over 80 varieties of waterlilies, making it one of the state’s largest collections.

Held at McKee Botanical Garden, this annual celebration attracts a diverse audience including McKee members, horticultural enthusiasts, photographers, artists, and visitors from across the state. Guests will be treated to a day filled with immersive experiences, including waterlily repotting demonstrations, plant sales, vendors offering wire art and handmade baskets from Africa, and the presence of plein air artists, adding an artistic flair to the event.

In a special treat for early birds, the Garden will open its gates at 8:30 am, granting visitors a rare opportunity to witness the enchanting beauty of night-blooming waterlilies alongside their day-blooming counterparts. Additionally, attendees will have the chance to delve into the vital role these aquatic plants play in preserving our ecosystem.

One of the highlights of the festival is the Annual Waterlily Photo Contest, inviting both McKee members and the public to showcase their photographic skills. Entries must feature waterlilies or lotus captured at McKee Botanical Garden in 2023 or 2024 using either film or digital cameras.   Participants may submit one photo in each of three style categories: Color, Black and White, and Manipulated. For budding photographers aged 17 and under, a dedicated Youth category awaits. Full contest rules and entry forms can be found on the McKee Botanical Garden website, Entries can be submitted from June 4 to June 12 at McKee’s Administrative Offices located at the south end of the parking lot.

A panel of judges will evaluate submissions on Friday, June 14, and all entries will be displayed in the Historic Hall of Giants during the festival on June 15. Visitors will have the opportunity to cast their votes for the coveted “People’s Choice” award during the event.

This year, McKee is delighted to announce that internationally renowned landscape photographer Ngoc Minh Ngo will judge what she believes to be this year’s “Best in Show” photograph. The winning image will be announced on July 1st and will be featured on McKee’s website. Anyone wishing to participate in this opportunity to be judged by Ngoc, must email a digital version of their photograph to by June 15.

Ngoc is a New York-based photographer whose images have been published in such publications as The World of InteriorsVogue, T MagazineArchitectural DigestCabana, and House & Garden UK. She is the author of several books, Bringing Nature Home: Floral Arrangements Inspired by NatureIn Bloom: Creating and Living with FlowersEden Revisited: A Garden in Northern Morocco, and her most recent publication New York Green: Discovering the City’s Most Treasured Parks and Gardens.

Ngoc photographed McKee Botanical Garden in 2023 and will return in 2024 for an upcoming book. McKee is the first Florida garden Ngoc has photographed.

During the Annual Waterlily Celebration, the Garden Cafe will be operating from 8:45 am to 3:00 pm, presenting a carefully curated selection of delightful options including sandwiches, the soup of the day, and Caesar Salad. Additionally, a dedicated children’s menu will be offered to cater to the tastes of our youngest patrons, ensuring a satisfying experience for all visitors.

Admission to the festival is priced at $15 for adults, $13 Seniors (65+)/Youth (13-17), and $10 for children (2-12 ). McKee members and children under 2 are free.

McKee Botanical Garden, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is committed to nurturing and enhancing a historic garden within a unique tropical setting for the education, enjoyment, and enrichment of all. The garden is conveniently located at 350 US Highway 1 in Vero Beach.

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