The 80-acre tropical hammock in Vero Beach, Florida known as McKee Jungle Gardens originally opened in 1932 by Arthur G. McKee and Waldo E. Sexton. Unfortunately, in 1976 the Gardens were forced to close and all but 18 acres were developed into condominiums while the rest remained dormant for twenty years.
In 1994, the Indian River Land Trust launched a fundraising campaign to buy the property. An additional million was raised to purchase and restore the Garden. The formal dedication ceremony for McKee Botanical Garden was held in November of 2001.
The Garden remains true to its jungle heritage, featuring 10,000 native and tropical plants as well as one of the area’s largest collections of water lilies. Two of the original structures – the Hall of Giants and Spanish Kitchen –were restored to their original vision. In 2002, the United States’ first permitted bamboo structure was built on site.
This past year the Garden received a grant to design and produce signs for a comprehensive and integrated interpretive signage program. Designed by graphic designer Laura Fadden, the signs are a blend of historic McKee Jungle Gardens and the McKee of today. For the interpretive panels Fadden used old historic black and white photos and also historic post cards along with colorful photos of today. Along with the interpretive panels, the Garden also created wayfinding and informational signage for visitors though out the park.
“We found out about Pannier per Laure Fadden’s recommendation,” said Executive Director Christine Hobart. “I believe she saw Pannier’s website and the work [they] had done for the National Parks and suggested I contact Pannier.”
Due to the extreme sun and heat in Florida, the Garden chose Pannier’s Gel Coat Laminate (GCL) panels. GCL panels provide the strength of fiberglass embedment with an elegantly reﬁned finish, with an additional barrier of protection against the harsh Florida sun. The Garden also chose a variety of Pannier Exhibit Bases and Frames to display their panels throughout the garden.
“Pannier’s frame choices and superior quality makes the signage vibrant and attractive, yet it fits into our landscape perfectly, without being obtrusive,” said Hobart. “The new interpretive signage will promote a deeper appreciation of the Garden and enhances the overall visitor experience.”
“From my initial phone call to request information, through the manufacturing process Robin was there making sure the end product was what we wanted,” said Hobart. “Superior customer service and signage!”