Bok Tower Gardens
Bok Tower Gardens
A Delightful Florida Garden
is one of those places whose existence I was always aware of but never had any inclination to visit. Little did I know how extensive and wonderful the surrounding gardens are. The tower itself is an architectural gem but visitors only get to admire it from the exterior. They can appreciate a significant part of the interior when its 60 bell carillon is played every day. I must confess that on our media tour we were permitted inside and allowed to ascend to the top of the tower.
A Sneak Peek
The views of the surrounding countryside were amazing and seeing the inner workings and control panel for the carillon was a true delight. If you choose to become a member of the wonderful Bok Tower gardens then one of the perks of membership is the opportunity to ascend the tower occasionally.
Large And Diverse Gardens Bok Tower Gardens owns a considerable acreage around the actual tower in an attempt to retain the natural history of the area that was so enticing to Edward Bok. He commissioned the building of the tower and the surrounding gardens in the early 1920s and it became a national historic landmark in 1929. The outer acreage is primarily in Orange groves which are always fascinating to northern visitors. Between the very informative visitor’s centre and of course the attendant gift shop is the magnificent mature garden that you wander through to get to the top of the hill where the tower is located. In the display area, that features a rotation of interesting plant throughout the year, around the gift shop there was a fascinating display of Tillandsia in bloom.(pictured right) These little air plants, members of the Bromeliad family, are amazing to see, particularly when they are blooming.
Azaleas And Cycads The Bok Tower Gardens have several distinct areas and they are all laid out along meandering bark chip paths. The content and layout of this garden, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr, slows you down and almost forces you to take a considerable period of time to relax and absorb its many features. At the right time of year, the Azalea woods are truly impressive. They were just starting to hint at their splendour during our visit in early February. I happen to have a passion for a family of plants known as the Cycads and this garden had a considerable collection of species and most of them were quite large and mature. The occasional one had the large cone like fruiting structure developed in its centre.
I’m Just Strange If I have a criticism, it’s that, for an avid gardener like myself, there were many plants that were not labelled. They don’t pretend to be a botanical garden and most visitors would be delighted just to observe the delightful plants; it’s just us few real enthusiasts that would appreciate more labelling. There is also an interesting section showing the native plants of the area and it’s interesting to see just how many plants that we associate with Florida that are imports from other regions of the world.
Allow Lots of Time If you stay longer than you planned to, and you probably will, there is a delightful little restaurant that serves great lunches that won’t break your budget. Media tours never provide enough time to really explore a great garden or to photograph it properly, so I will be back to appreciate all that it has to offer and to capture that mature Cycad in just the right light.
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