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)

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Hill Garden Succession 2011

The Hill Garden is located in a raised area at the front left corner of our house. (See the map in "about the garden.") It overlooks the driveway and is a wonderful welcome home with its planting that lasts at least ten months of the year. The photos are group by date taken, which is listed on the left.

The succession in this area should be even grander this year with the addition of a classic combination: Crocus vernus 'Grand Maitre' and Narcissus 'Tete-a-tete'.

March 18th
I love this quiet combination at one side of the Hill: Crocus vernus 'Jeanne d'Arc' with hens and chicks and Ajuga reptans.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Map of Gilmore Gardens

I thought the readers of WMG might appreciate knowing that we now have a pretty little map of our place, complete with labeled gardens to help you make sense of it as a whole.

This will be located on the new "about the gardens" page under the header, which you may notice has also been spruced up for the new year. Thank you to my hubby!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day ~ January 2012

Snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii, in the snow on December 17th

Welcome to chilly Pennsylvania and my beloved Gilmore Gardens.
Today we have "The Tale of the Snowdrop." It all began before GBBD December. One Galanthus elwesii bloomed unexpectedly in the beginning of December, though they usually bloom in March or even April in our area. It is situated in our Shade Path garden and therefore has a cool, sheltered position which has kept it from deteriorating too quickly.

Just two days after December's bloom day, a light snow fell over the garden but stayed less than a day (see photo above).  For the remainder of that month and the beginning of January, our snowdrop looked perfect in bloom, as though it really was not January at all (see photo below).

Galanthus elwesii just three days ago, January the 12th.
The weather in western PA has been as odd here as everywhere else in the northern hemisphere: snow laying on the ground for less than four days total. Usually we have had a month or even two by now which are thoroughly blanketed with a foot of snow and temps in the 20's or teens (-11 to 0 degrees C).  Our high temperature this month has been 52 degrees F (11 C) with it being 43 F for most of last week. The average high is usually 35 degrees (1.7 C).

But the cold and snow have made a comeback, returning just three days ago. And so today finds our dear little snowdrop under a pile of white. This was easily dusted away for its last portrait (below).

Today on January 15th
Thanks to Carol at May Dreams for hosting GBBD!
Perhaps there will be more snowdrops to show next month? We can always hope.
In the meantime I have been luxuriating in this wall of green.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Longwood's Green Wall

Longwood Garden's indoor Green Wall
Just over a year ago, Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA unveiled their new bathrooms. They are rather unusual bathrooms since they are surrounded by the largest "Green Wall" (also called a Vertical garden) in North America. Green walls are currently very popular in European countries, some of the most impressive examples being created in Paris, France by Patrick Blanc. When used on the exterior of buildings, they are helpful in greening urban areas.

Walking through this interior corridor gives you the feeling of being in an expansive greenhouse, as the ceiling lets in plenty of light.
The south-facing wall is quite filled in and full. The north-facing wall is still a bit thin in areas. I spoke to one of LG's gardeners and she said her job on the north-facing wall was to keep it from being taken over completely by the philodendron, a plant that thrives in low light.
North-facing wall: its bareness lets you see the panels of flat planting peat.
They have used panels of flat peat which are inserted into a wire frame fastened to the wall. Plant plugs are pressed into the holes in rows in the peat. A sprinkler system at the top of the wall keeps it evenly moist and extra water is caught by the drain grate at the bottom.
South-facing wall: you can see the metal drain grate at the bottom.
Several different types of ferns and various philodendrons make up the bulk of the planting
 A fun and unexpected experience for a bathroom break.

A thank you is in order for my guest photographer, Little Garden Girl, on shots 3 & 5. What a wonderful little girl I have! Such an eye for composition too, yes? Thanks, Grace!

See more from Longwood Gardens in my posts this past week:
Longwood Outdoors in Winter
Christmas in Longwood's Conservatory

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Longwood Gardens ~ Winter in the Outdoor Gardens

Lover's Tower by the Large lake
 A few photos that I daringly took while trying to avoid frostbite at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA just after Christmas. The conservatory is a very pleasant place to spend an afternoon, sampling all of their holiday delights. Outside it is extremely windy, though the temperatures in eastern Pennsylvania are milder than in my part of PA (the west side).

There seem not too many visitors who venture into the outdoor gardens in the wintertime. Most sensible people choose instead to luxuriate in the balmy conservatory. This might explain the lack of significant winter interest (no autumn snowdrops or Helleborus niger for instance).  But where there are eyes to see, there is always something beautiful in a garden - and especially in a garden this large!

Bedecked entrance gate
Long view to your right upon entrance
The Topiary Garden, looking crisp at the end of December with the Conservatory behind
Wonderfully old yews, clipped various ways
A view from the Topiary Garden down to the main fountain area and the Paulownia Allee
The Paulownia Allee looking back the other direction
Chimes Tower with carillon bells. Winterberry holly in front for the season.
Woodland garden behind the Chimes Tower; a wealth of Epimediums carpet the forest floor under magnificent trees
We went looking for flowering Helleborus. None yet as they seem to all be H. orientalis
A low-maintenance turf experiment: different mixes receive one, two or no mowings per year.
 Bodnant's viburnum just breaking into bud (Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn').
Pretty texture of Willowleaf Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster salicifolius cv. repens)
Back around to the fountain area, looking up to the Topiary Garden
An avenue of Caryopteris 'Longwood Blue' down to the favorite wedding spot.
A view from the opposite direction, toward the Conservatory
Lovely bamboo crowding the scene. I have seen seating set up on this end for intimate wedding gatherings
The venerable conservatory: Though it has a cool stone exterior, the inside is filled with a wealth of warm holiday flora.
This yew was moved at a mature 100 years by Pierre du Pont to this location, nearly a hundred years ago.
Walking to the east gardens brought me a view of this beech hedge in just its winter framework behind the curved seat.
Large lake
I will always remember my first view of this "Lover's Tower" and lake. There is a journey through the woods to the bottom of the hill, then it opens up. My breath was literally taken away when I saw it through the verdant July foliage and billowing hydrangeas. (Perhaps I will plunge into the archives for those photos later.) In winter, it has a quieter beauty, but its design stands out in the stark contrast of browns and greys.

Some vibrant golden-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea 'Flaviramea') that captured my eye throughout the garden.
Small garden building along the walk back to the gate with a red-twig dogwood.
The Open-Air Theatre is used frequently for fountain and musical performances including carols in December.
A sunset view to the sky past the rose arches... rather Hidcote-esque if you squint.
I hope you have enjoyed these views from the comfort of your warm, cozy living room or study. These two weeks later, my nose and fingers have mostly thawed out.

If you have not yet marveled at the warm conservatory views of the famous Longwood Christmas, you really should; these were taken with much less sacrifice on the photographer's part.

One more from Longwood Gardens in my posts this past week:
Longwood's Green Wall (Indoor Vertical Garden)
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