Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida ~ Paths and Plantings

Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida, USA
The Bok Tower Gardens are just south of Orlando, Florida. Made by Edward Bok during the 1920s, it contains an amazing tower with carillon bells, a moat, topical garden paths, huge collections of azaleas, camellias and other plants.

My husband and I were so excited to discover this garden in 2009 when we took an extravagant winter get-away. This garden was by far our favorite outing! With balmy weather in February, all the azaleas in bloom and an al fresco lunch at their cafe, it was a peaceful retreat and a delightful day spent.

I have decided to break this post into two parts.  There is just too much to appreciate all in one sitting. Such a beautiful location! This post will focus on the paths and plantings at Bok Tower Gardens.   The second post will focus on its use of water and vistas over the orange fields of southern Florida. 

Part 1: Paths & Plantings
Above is a glimpse of the majestic Bok Tower, which contains an instrument called the carillon, which is like an organ of bells.  The tower was also Edward Bok's study in his lifetime; a beautiful, creative and extravagant place to work. Bok employed renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. to lay out his scheme. Olmsted is also famous his work on the Biltmore Estate, which we visited this past summer.

A person who is wandering around this area certainly can not help but be drawn exactly where the famous landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., wished you to go.
This path by the cafe was draped with tiny bromeliads such as the pink flowering Tillandsia stricta.
This path and stair case from the visitor center was one of the most formal in the whole design, being rigidly symmetrical.
After leaving the visitor center, a series of informal, winding paths begin to lead you to the top of the hill.
The planting is entirely magical to a gardener from Pennsylvania... palms, azaleas and ferns with Spanish moss sprinkled about.
You pass a broad lawn on your left as you continue your ascent.
One hedge leads off to the side to a properly place Japanese lantern.
Live oak trees, Quercus virginiana, spread out over a path that seems to more straight and formal.
And then the tower peeks out from behind.
Front view of the tower with surrounding moat. You can see the gold-leafed door at its base.
Garden in front of the tower: full of pink azaleas in February.
A single Verbascum
One of the intricately carved tower windows.

Pretty garden gate.
A(n) historic tree from the garden's dedication.

More lush paths lead you to with Camellia bushes on the right.
One of many beautiful camellias in February.
A series of other paths lead you to the Azalea Garden.
This was a wonderful garden to stroll and enjoy a good sit.
The paths to the left of the tower have a wilder feel to them, though they are still gardened beautifully.
Palms and fern trees abound in these areas.
A perfect pairing of pink-blooming bromeliads and ferns.
One glimpse of the path around the moat and the view to the orange fields in the background.
Part 2: Water & vistas at Bok Tower Gardens (coming soon)


  1. Looks like the perfect place to be in February! Camellias and Azaleas and Spanish Moss on the trees--sign me up! :)

  2. Oh my what an incredible oasis...I love anything from the 20s and 30s and this is right up my alley...I seldom get to FL but if I do I will have to check this place out...can't wait for more views...

  3. Wow - this is gorgeous! And this was in February! So much color! What a great place to go for inspiration.

  4. I love those hanging bromeliads - not something I can really grow here and also the stuff hanging off the trees is very atmospheric

  5. When you return I hope you will accept this versatile blogging have an amazing blog and have become a special place and blogger I enjoy are not obligated to do anything...check out the details at the link below...

  6. Lovely post and pictures! I have many happy memories of Bok from the time I lived in Florida, and it certainly makes a welcome change from our bleak English weather.


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