Vero Beach, FloridaMay 24, 2024 – Waterlilies have been celebrated in the pools, ponds, and watery mazes of McKee Botanical Garden since the garden first opened in 1932.  These living collections have astonishing colors, mysterious openings, and varied pedal and leaf patterns and sizes and have captivated visitors since McKee reintroduced the collection when the garden re-opened in 2001.

The International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society (IWGS) was formed in 1984 as a group of water gardening enthusiasts who wanted to enhance and expand the information available about waterlilies and water gardening.  The immediate success of the organization led to spectacular interest and growth and now enables IWGS to host annual symposiums and provide grants, funding, and networking opportunities for hybridizers and growers.

McKee has courted recognition by the IWGS for many years, with a determined effort by McKee’s aquatic expert, Nikki Wojtowicz to meet the high standards of the IWGS.  Of the 100-plus varieties grown at McKee, 50 were identified in the past as worthy of distinction by the IWGS, and this year, 48 of those 50 received Certified Collection of Excellence.  McKee’s waterlily collection is now one of only seven in the world with this exceptional distinction: Bennetts Water Gardens, Weymouth, England; Bergen Water Gardens & Nursery, Churchville, NY; Denver Botanic Garden, Denver, CO; International Water Lily, San Angelo, TX; Latour-Marliac, Temple-sur-Lot, France and Oasis Desert City, San Sebastian de Los Reyes, Spain.

This important recognition highlights McKee Botanical Garden’s commitment to horticultural excellence and its exceptional contributions to the study and display of waterlilies and aquatic plants under McKee’s director of horticulture and research, Andreas Daehnick.  Nikki Wojtowicz will continue her education in this specialized field as an attendee of this year’s IWGS Symposium in Reading, UK July 16–20.

McKee Botanical Garden’s 19th Annual Waterlily Celebration is Saturday, June 15, 2024, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. In addition to the spectacular and award-winning waterlily display the celebration will feature a photo contest, repotting demonstrations, plant vendors, plein air artists, wire art, wood crafts and handmade baskets.  The Garden Café will be open from 8:45 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.


 McKee Botanical Garden, is a Florida Heritage Landmark, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is acknowledged by The Garden Conservancy as a preservation project of national significance.  Established in 1922 by early developers and conservationists Arthur McKee and Waldo Sexton, McKee operated as an internationally renowned 80-acre roadside attraction from 1932 until its closure in 1976.  Protected by a stipulation in the sales’ contract with the developer, the 18-acres that remain of the historic garden were valiantly preserved by an undaunted community.  Reclaimed, restored, and reopened to the public in 2001, McKee Botanical Garden now features 10,000 tropical plants, internationally renowned annual exhibits, the Children’s Garden, the Garden Café, and year-round educational programs for adults and children.  Supported by 7,000 members, hundreds of volunteers, and enjoying record-breaking visitor attendance year after year, McKee remains a testament to the resilience and dedication of the community it serves.