Top 10 Public Gardens

Spring finds these coastal beauties coming into full flower.

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McKee Botanical Garden
Photo: Courtesy McKee Botanical Garden

McKee Botanical Garden, Vero Beach, Florida

Honorable mention: McKee Botanical Garden, Vero Beach, Florida. Vero Beach, a charming, artsy town in the middle of Florida's Atlantic Coast, has resurrected a lost icon of the state's gloriously cheesy tourism history. McKee Jungle Gardens debuted in 1932, combining tropical landscaping, exotic animals, and swimsuit-clad ladies into a wildly successful package. Then came Walt Disney World and other new attractions. The gardens closed in 1976, and most of the 80 acres were developed. Local residents saw potential in the remaining 18 acres, raised money, cleared the riotous overgrowth, and reopened McKee Botanical Garden in 2001. The screeching monkeys and bathing beauties survive only in memory, but the restored McKee does reward visitors with lushly colored flowers and some delightful architectural oddities; 772/794-0601 or mckeegarden.org.

Links to hundreds of gardens worldwide: bgbm.org/idb/botgard.html

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