Return To Eden
The battle to save McKee Garden took 25 years, thousands of man-hours and millions of dollars. Now, at last, Vero Beach's "secret garden" is a secret no more.
This is the story of the garden that refused to die. When McKee Botanical Garden reopened in August, it represented more than a quarter-century of hope, heartbreak and hard work by people determined to save what everyone agreed was a treasure for the community.
The first person to recognize the potential of the idyllic landscape was the man after whom it would later be named: Arthur McKee.
In the early years of the 20th century, the land where McKee now stands was the property of the Florida East Coast Groves Co., owned by McKee and his partners, Walter Buckingham and Waldo Sexton. It was slated to become a citrus grove, but one 114-acre parcel, a dense tropical landscape filled with oaks, pines and maples, was so magnificent that McKee and Sexton decided it should be preserved. In 1922, they started clearing the land by the usual hand methods of the time.
Read the entire article in the November 2001 issue