Peace, serenity and refuge were the first words that came to mind with my first steps onto this magnificent property. Mere words can not describe the beauty and peacefulness of this remarkable landscape. As we walked the pathways lined with plants, trees and flowers native to Florida, we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by butterflies and we froze in place, mesmerized by the splendor of the moment.
Edward W. Bok, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, and editor of the Ladies Home Journal, felt the need to give something back to a country that gave him so much opportunity and in 1929 he gifted the Tower and Gardens to the American people and today the site is a registered historic landmark.
Pathways winding through acres upon acres of of landscaping maintained to painstaking perfection, with the sounds of nature all around, leaves one with a sense of pure calm. Tranquil resting spots are scattered throughout where one can just sit back and listen to the sounds of the many species of birds that are attracted to this creation of beauty. This work of art changes with each season and each season has it’s own particular beauty.
The 205 foot tower made of marble and coquina houses one of the worlds only 600 carillon instruments. The Bok Tower Carillon has 60 bronzed cast bells and is played using a keyboard similar to that of a piano but requiring much more physical movement as the Carillonneur must use both his hands and feet. The Carrillonneur strikes the keyboard with his fists and presses a pedal keyboard with his feet. This movement in turn activates levers that move the wires connected to the clappers that strike the inside of the bells.
The Carillon music performed at intervals throughout the day blends in with the peacefulness of the surroundings almost as if the sounds of the bells were part of nature. At the base of the tower are tree shaded areas of lush grass where you could throw down a blanket, picnic or just lay back and enjoy the calm. Also, at the base of a tower is a reflection pond filled with fish and the biggest lily pads I have ever seen.
Many I do’s have been said here as the tower and the gardens have provided an extraordinary back drop to the wedding ceremonies preformed at this picture perfect location. The gardens are a photographers dream providing colorful and romantic scenery that will enhance every picture taken.
Understanding the need for children’s play, Bok Tower Gardens created Hammock Hollow, where young visitors can step into a garden of adventure. Digging in a sandbox shaped like a snake, dodging squirts of water through a rock formation, climbing adventures and rock word play are just some of the activities provided for children in Hammock Hollow.
Bok Tower provides many hours of peaceful enjoyment so allow yourself time to take in all the natural beauty of each area. There is a museum on site as well as a gift shop. If you don’t pack a picnic lunch and get hungry on your visit then stop into the Blue Palmetto Cafe’ for a delicious gourmet sandwich, soup or salad. There is air conditioned seating inside as well as outside patio seating. The sounds of the Carillon music can be heard throughout the entire property and it makes for a memorable lunch if dining outside whether it be at the Blue Palmetto Cafe’ or a brought in picnic lunch.
While on property one should also plan to visit Pinewood Estate, the winter residence of American industrialist Charles Austin Buck from 1932 to 1945. Mr Buck’s Pinewood Estate is an exquisite example of Mediterranean style architecture of that time period and it gives one a sense of the American aristocratic lifestyle of the 1930’s and 1940’s. Pinewood Estate laid adjacent to the Bok Tower Garden’s property and was acquired by the Bok Tower Garden non profit organization in 1970.
Bok Tower Gardens is open 365 days a year and is located in Lake Wales, Florida about 62 miles east of Tampa and about 54 miles south, southwest of Orlando. Admission to the Gardens and the Pinewood Estate tour is $22 for adult and $10 for children. Dogs are allowed on the garden property as long as they are on a leash, well behaved and cleaned up after. All areas are handicap accessible except for the 2nd floor at the Pinewood Estate. Mobility scooters are also available for rent at the visitor center.
If you have any questions about our visit to Bok Tower and Gardens please feel free to send us a comment and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
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Categories: Botanical Gardens