Created by Edward Bok, an editor, the gardens serve as a nature preserve. President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the gardens in 1929.
I really enjoyed learning about Bok, editor of the “Ladies Home Journal,”and how he came up in the publishing world, starting with the Henry Holt and Company in 1882.
Before heading out to the gardens we had a quick lunch at the Blue Palmetto Cafe. It was reasonably priced and delicious.
The Singing Tower is the focal point of the garden and was designed and built by architect Milton Medary.
The Singing Tower looking across the reflection pool.
(All photos by E.A. Seagraves or Christopher Brooke. Please don’t use without permission.)
The designs decorating the tower were really beautiful.
Sundial on the side of The Singing Tower.
The tower has bells built inside and carillon bell concerts are held at 1 and 3 p.m. There are also evening concerts during parts of the year. There’s an outdoor sitting area near the tower so people can sit and listen to the bells. There’s also a live video feed so you can watch the bellmen play the tunes.
Even if you don’t attend the concerts at the tower, you can still hear the music through most of the property.
Bok is buried at the foot of the tower.
A small pond surrounds the tower and there are two swans that you can feed. But be careful. One swan is mean. He’ll grab your toes if you don’t pay attention.
Chris feeds one of the swans.
There were lots of palms, azaleas and camellias throughout the garden. It was really pretty and it was nice to walk around taking pictures. (Sorry I won’t have any pictures of those flowers. Some of the Bok Tower Garden pictures are some of those that we lost from the trip.)
We also walked around the Pine Ridge Trail, which is 3/4 mile long and travels through different environments with interpretive signs explaining the significance of each. This is where we learned about live oaks and how to identify them. There were also lots of long leaf pines and grasses.
From there we could view an orange orchard and workers out in the field, standing next to what appeared to be bee hives:
These are orange blossoms. They’re really fragrant. There were also grapefruit blooms on the property, which look and smell similar.
There’s a little shed with a window facing a pond called “Window by the Pond.” You can sit and watch birds, squirrels and reptiles feeding and swimming by. Three stumps set out in the pond are filled with seed and attracts variety of birds … and squirrels.
We saw a variety of birds at “The Window by the Pond,” including a red winged black bird (left) and these other birds.
This squirrel figured out a way to get out to the bird feed. We saw him later run across the three stumps and leap onto a low hanging tree branch.
We also toured the gardens and yard around the Pinewood Estate. It would have been nice to visit the inside of the home too, but we still had a large portion of the gardens to see and I didn’t want to miss any of it.
I really enjoyed the gardens and recommend it as a side trip if you’re ever in central Florida.
Here’s some more photos:
For some information about Edward Bok or the gardens, check out these books from Amazon:
Note: I linked to these books using Blogger’s new Amazon Associates program. I’m giving it a try to see how it works.
I haven’t read either of these books so I can’t give a full recommendation. My husband has read some books on Frederick Law Olmstead and some on Olmstead Jr., but I didn’t find those on Amazon. He did enjoy those, but I don’t remember their names.