“stand atop the tower, built on Iron Mountain”
Bok Tower Gardens has offered some of Florida’s most remarkable experiences to more than 23 million visitors since 1929. Through its historic landscape gardens, unique Singing Tower carillon and magnificent 1930s Mediterranean-style mansion, the Gardens offer unparalleled opportunities for artistic, cultural, personal and spiritual enrichment. Bok Tower Gardens boasts one of the greatest works of famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. The meandering, historic landscape garden was designed to be a contemplative and informal woodland setting offering a series of romantic recesses and tranquil resting spots, picturesque vistas and breathtaking views of the Singing Tower. Acres of ferns, palms, oaks and pines fashion a lush backdrop for flowering foliage and the spectacular seasonal color of azaleas, camellias and magnolias (a highlight of our spring peak bloom season) showcasing an ever-changing work of art. When Bok Tower Gardens founder Edward W. Bock immigrated to America from Den Helder, Netherlands at age six, he did not understand the language, customs or culture. Through determination and hard work, he became a highly successful publisher, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, respected humanitarian and an advocate of world peace and the environment. Having made arrangements to buy land on the hilltop, Bok commissioned Olmsted to change this arid sandhill into “a spot of beauty second to none in the country.” The first year was spent digging trenches and laying water pipes for irrigation, after which rich black soil was brought by the thousands of loads. With the proper conditions for a subtropical garden in place, the planting of bushes and trees began to provide food for migrating birds. Today, these plantings provide shade to visitors as well as refuge for squirrels and 126 bird species. Created to entice wildlife to take residence, the Reflection Pool gives visitors one of the most memorable experiences in the Gardens. Its location captures the reflection of the Singing Tower and offers the first image visitors have when entering the gardens. The Singing Tower is the centerpiece of the gardens. The tower was built at the highest elevation of the site, south of a reflection pool that allows the water to reflect its full image. A 60-bell carillon (cast by Taylor) set within the 205-foot tall, Gothic Revival and Art Deco tower that was designed by architect Milton B. Medary. Construction on the tower began in 1927 and was completed for the dedication of the gardens in 1929, when it was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge. The tower is 51 feet square at its base, changing form at 150 feet high to an octagon with 37 feet sides that include sculptures designed by Lee Lawrie. The tower is surrounded by a 15-foot moat that serves as a Koi pond. It is built of pink Etowah marble and gray Creole marble, mined in Tate, Georgia, and Florida native coquina stone, from Daytona Beach, Florida. Although the tower's interior is not open to the public, it contains the Anton Brees Carillon Library, said to be the largest carillon library in the world. Although, every year, graduating seniors from Lake Wales High School, a local high school located down the street from the tower, have the very rare opportunity to see the inside of the tower. Inside the bell chamber is a playing room that houses a clavier, or keyboard, that is used for playing the carillon bells. Recitals are given daily from the 60-bell carillon set.
Must bring a camera!! Amazing panoramic views! Incredible architecture and walking paths through the enormous gardens. Can't believe we didn't visit sooner. Next time we will bring a blanket and picnic lunch (although the cafe is very reasonable priced, not tourist prices at all).
Our friends at Backroad Planet wrote a great piece on the tower & gardens here: http://backroadplanet.com/bok-tower-gardens-americas-taj-mahal/
I visited the tower in the 1950's and it is a beautiful area! A friends daughter was married in the gardens.
Bok Tower is lovely! Be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
Beautiful Place! Must take pictures. The architecture, variety of plants, walk paths, small museum, store and food, and tower are beat taking. A great place to enjoy yourself in a peaceful place. If they build a hotel I will go for a me time!
This was lovely. I totally recommend going if you are in the area. They do gloss over the fact that you don't actually get to go INSIDE the tower where a lot of the beautiful tilework is and that the creator is buried at its base, but my kids and I still had fun feeding the koi and seeing the gigantic Amazon lily pads! Those alone were worth going for!! Beautiful plants and flowers abound and we cannot wait for the new children's areas to be completed in 2016!
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Bok Tower Gardens
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