McKee Botanical Garden
Tourist attractionsBotanical gardensNon-Profit organizations
McKee Jungle Gardens was the vision of land developers Arthur McKee and Waldo Sexton, who purchased the 80-acre tropical hammock in 1922 with the intention of cultivating citrus. The property’s natural beauty was deemed too special in its native state to disturb so McKee and Sexton identified a new purpose for the land. The two land developers employed landscape architect William Lyman Phillips, from the esteemed firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, to design the basic infrastructure of streams, ponds and trails while they focused their efforts on assembling one of the most outstanding collections of waterlilies and orchids – augmenting native vegetation with ornamental plants and exotic specimens from around the world.
By the 1940’s, more than 100,000 tourists were visiting the Gardens each year, deeming it one of Florida’s earliest and most popular natural attractions. The Garden’s award-winning orchid collection, unusual fly-trapping pelican flowers and exotic wildlife captivated visitors.