Thursday, June 2, 2011

Went to Bok Tower Gardens

We visited Bok Tower Gardens yesterday. Located in central Florida on Lake Wales Ridge, it is the Creation of Edward W Bok, Bok emigrated from the Netherlands to the US in the late 1870's at the age of six. He rose from the position of office boy to become the editor of the Ladies Home Journal and is credited with having coined the term "living room". Wow. Anyway he had a winter home in the gated community in Mountain Lake Estates. Apparently it's still a gated community of between 50 amd 100, multimillion dollar homes. I was advised not to try to see the Bok house because the guards are armed and visitors are not welcome!

At any rate, Bok decided to make a public garden on property near by, and commissioned Frederick Law Olmsted to design the gardens, Milton Medary to design the 205 foot Carrilon, and Lee Lawrie to design the sculpture. Those were heavy hitters and the product stands today and works for me! I like the fact that the used local materials in construction of the tower, Georgia Marble and Florida Coquina. I would guess that native plants comprise between 1/4 and 1/3 of the plantings.

The gardens are informal with winding trails, ponds, and oddly enough, an overlook! Florida in general is a pretty flat state, not a lot of topography: this garden includes the highest elevation in the state. The plant material is varied and wonderful. Palms, bamboos, a large planting of azaleas and camellias, bromeliads, cycads, and a variety of flowering tropical plants are spectacular. There are mass planting of Florida natives including Hamelia patens and Psychotria nervosa. Lake Wales Ridge is the epicenter for the evolution of the extraordinary Florida scrub endemic flora and there was an area dedicated to those plants....well labeled.

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