Friday, January 17, 2014

The Beautiful Bok Tower Gardens

Theresa and Chuck like botanical gardens so we thought we'd revisit Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales….That's such a beautiful place to go see a 260 foot Neo Gothic architectural 60 bell carillon tower and some beautifully designed informal gardens. Perhaps we'd see a live concert by a carillon player from a video cam in the gardens.  Bok Tower is located between Tampa and Orlando, and it is about an hour and a half drive from Bradenton. A carillon is a musical instrument that has at least 23 cast bronze bells. Because of the weight and size of the bells, it's one of the largest musical instruments. You play it from a keyboard and it takes some very specialized musical skills to play it. The bells weigh from 16 pounds to almost 12 TONS! There are four carillons in Florida, and 200 in North America.

The tower itself is AMAZING! It's been called "America's Taj Mahal"…..

At the very top are 8 marble heron statues….
internet photo of tower top
The tower is composed of many sculptures of plants and wildlife and birds. You can see cranes, eagles, herons, jellyfish, seahorses, flamingoes, swans, fish, pelicans, foxes, tortoises, baboon, geese, Adam and Eve and the serpent, and other biblical references.

The upper balconies have doves carrying oak and laurel branches symbolizing peace and strength. There's some beautiful wrought ironwork in the fencing and gates on the property as well….There's a beautiful brass door on one side of the tower and it shows the Book of Genesis, starting with the Creation of Light.

There wasn't a live concert, that's only on Thursdays and we were there on a different day, so we didn't get to see the talented bell player this day…..but recorded concerts play at 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM daily, and the gardens are open all year round, 365 days a year. There is an admission fee, ($10.00 for adults) but coupons are available on the internet to print out and offer considerable savings.
Stokes aster
You could spend hours here, the 7 1/2 acre gardens are designed for wandering and meandering around….It's a lush, informal woodland setting with the most amazing selections of plants and flowers that take your breath away…..

There are little recessed places for sitting and reflecting…There are beautiful ponds and pools and wildlife to be seen……The grounds are designated as a Florida Great Birding Trail site.

A beautiful visitor's center has a unique pebble pathway with an air plant hanging display of more than 30 different species of air plants and the history of the gardens and it's originator, Edward W. Bok. Some interesting history about this Dutch founder and his views on the world of his time can be found at the visitor's center. Bok presented this tower and gardens to the American people as a gift for his gratitude at being given opportunities to become a successful businessman in America. It's a fantastic place and well worth the drive to go see it…

Theresa and Chuck loved their visit to Bok Tower Gardens today…Here they are in front of the Pinewood Estate, which is on the garden grounds and is an example of a 20 room Mediterranean style mansion/estate that is on the National Historic Landmark list. It is decorated at Christmas time and is available as a separate tour. We just toured the outside today…..

By the way, Sparky thinks the food at the little cafe is outstanding. Best chicken salad sandwich with dried cherries she's ever had! Yum!

We look forward to heading back to Bok Tower again some day, maybe when the next round of company comes!


  1. Such wonderful pics, thanks for the tour...

  2. Wow.. thanks for taking us along on your tour!

    Karen and Steve
    (Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard

  3. We loved Bok Tower Gardens. It's a magical place.

    I didn't hear you mention squirrels. When we visited 20 years ago, you could buy food and feed the squirrels. So we bought food. I was holding a bag of squirrel food as I walked along a path. All of a sudden a squirrel climbed my leg all the way up to my back. I screamed because squirrels have very sharp claws. Hopefully they did away with feeding the little varmints.