Bok Tower Gardens in December

Christmas Garden by Historic Home

Christmas Garden by Historic Home

Red and White Poinsettias Around Fountain

Red and White Poinsettias Around Fountain

White Holiday Table

White Holiday Table

1940s Toys under Tree

1940s Toys under Tree

Teddy Bear Christmas Tree

Teddy Bear Christmas Tree

Orange Baby Painting in Historic Home

Orange Baby Painting in Historic Home

Red and Yellow Striped Chrysanthemums

Red and Yellow Striped Chrysanthemums

Green Ferns and Moss on Tree

Green Ferns and Moss on Tree

Dark Red Camellia

Dark Red Camellia

Pink Azaleas in Bloom

Pink Azaleas in Bloom

Colorful Caladium Leaf

Colorful Caladium Leaf

Blooming Display Table

Blooming Display Table

Top of Bok Tower

Top of Bok Tower

Pink Marble Water Jar Carving

Pink Marble Water Jar Carving

Gold Door of Bok Tower Reflected in Pond

Gold Door of Bok Tower Reflected in Pond

Bok Entrance Quote

Bok Entrance Quote

 

We always try to visit Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida, in December.  The historic home is decorated beautifully for the holidays and the garden is always in bloom.  This year’s theme was a 1940s Christmas.  

Bok said:  “Give to the world the best you have and the best will come back to  you.”  It is our favorite garden in Florida!  More info about Bok Tower at Christmas is at:  https://boktowergardens.org/christmas/    All of our posts about Bok Tower Gardens are at:  https://naturetime.wordpress.com/?s=bok

Florida: December at Bok Tower Gardens

Christmas Garden by Historic Home

Christmas Garden by Historic Home

Holiday Path to Historic Home

Holiday Path to Historic Home

Red Poinsettias

Red Poinsettias

Pink Poinsettias and Amaryllis

Pink Poinsettias and Amaryllis

Holiday Dining Room in Historic Home

Holiday Dining Room in Historic Home

Silver Holiday Table in Historic Home

Silver Holiday Table in Historic Home

Christmas Tree and Harp in Historic Home

Christmas Tree and Harp in Historic Home

Christmas Tree Decorated with Red Hibiscus and Crocheted Garland

Christmas Tree Decorated with Red Hibiscus and Crocheted Garland

Christmas Tree Decorated with Knitted Red Poinsettia Flowers

Christmas Tree Decorated with Knitted Red Poinsettia Flowers

Close-up of Knitted Red Poinsettia Flowers

Close-up of Knitted Red Poinsettia Flowers

Welcome Pineapple on Door Composed of Sweetgum Seed Pods (also called gum balls or porcupine eggs)

Welcome Pineapple on Door Composed of Sweetgum Seed Pods (also called gum balls or porcupine eggs)

Bromeliad Christmas Tree in Visitor Center

Bromeliad Christmas Tree in Visitor Center

Bromeliad Wall and Poinsettias by Visitor Center

Bromeliad Wall and Poinsettias by Visitor Center

Bok Tower Gardens is especially beautiful in December (located in Lake Wales, Florida).  Plenty of flowers are always in bloom, and each room in the historic home on-site is decorated for Christmas.  It is well worth a visit!  More info is at:  http://boktowergardens.org/christmas/

UPDATE May 2018:  Bok Tower Gardens was recently recognized as one of the ten most romantic places in Florida by “Coastal Living” magazine!  Article here:  https://www.coastalliving.com/travel/gulf-coast/most-romantic-destinations-florida

Florida Christmas: Bok Tower Gardens

Bromeliad Wall at Christmas

Bromeliad Wall at Christmas

Staghorn Fern and Poinsettias

Staghorn Fern and Poinsettias

Poinsettia Balls and Spanish Moss

Poinsettia Balls and Spanish Moss

Big Pots and Poinsettia Walkway

Big Pots and Poinsettia Walkway

Entrance to Historic Pinewood Estate

Entrance to Historic Pinewood Estate

Hibiscus Wreath

Hibiscus Wreath

Santa Sleigh

Santa Sleigh

Family Room

Family Room

Cookies and Milk for Santa, and Carrots for Reindeer

Cookies and Milk for Santa, and Carrots for Reindeer

Christmas Treats Table

Christmas Treats Table

Vintage Living Room

Vintage Living Room

Study (insect decorations on tree)

Study (insect decorations on tree)

Bedroom with Window Wreaths

Bedroom with Window Wreaths

Peacock Theme Bedroom

Peacock Theme Bedroom

Twin Bedroom with Swan Paintings

Twin Bedroom with Swan Paintings

Flowers Blooming at Christmastime

Flowers Blooming at Christmastime

Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida, is decorated beautifully this time of year.  The historic Pinewood Estate has vintage Christmas decorations on view in every room.  It is a delightful place to visit.  More info is at:  http://boktowergardens.org/christmas/   Info on the December 2014 decorations and tour is at:  http://boktowergardens.org/calendar/holiday-home-tour-at-pinewood-estate/

Bok Tower Gardens: Peak Flower Bloom!

Bok Tower in Early Spring

Bok Tower in Early Spring

Blooming Pink Azalea

Blooming Pink Azalea

Azalea-Lined Trail

Azalea-Lined Trail

Blooming Red Camellia "Royal Velvet"

Blooming Red Camellia “Royal Velvet”

Flowering Jungle Trail

Flowering Jungle Trail

Colorful Blooming Bromeliads

Colorful Blooming Bromeliads

Bok Tower Gardens has been voted Florida’s “Favorite Garden”.  The peak bloom is now!  The trails are filled with flowering azaleas, camellias, and bromeliads.

Florida: Inside Beautiful Bok Tower!

Base of Bok Tower

Base of Bok Tower

Entrance Through Golden Brass Door

Entrance Through Golden Brass Door

Tree Cutout Peephole Above Lock

Tree Cutout Peephole Above Lock

Mr. Bok's Gravesite in Front of Golden Brass Door

Mr. Bok’s Gravesite in Front of Golden Brass Door

Inside Founder's Room Looking Out Golden Brass Door

Inside Founder’s Room Looking Out Golden Brass Door

Inside Looking Up at Soaring Pink Ceilings (capstone is in middle and lantern is at top)

Inside Looking Up at Soaring Pink Ceilings (capstone is in middle and lantern is at top)

Wrought Iron Lantern (spider web base and birds encircling top)

Wrought Iron Lantern (spider web base and birds encircling top)

Wrought Iron Lantern in Front of Carved Marble Window

Wrought Iron Lantern in Front of Carved Marble Window

Fireplace Mantel

Fireplace Mantel

Florida Mural Above Fireplace

Florida Mural Above Fireplace

Tile Floor with Star of Life

Tile Floor with Star of Life

Colorful Animal Tiles

Colorful Animal Tiles

Recently I attended a special member’s only tour of the Founder’s Room on the first floor of Bok Tower. The Founder’s Room was created as Mr. Bok’s private study.  It was exciting to finally go inside the tower!  Access to the top of the tower is extremely limited, but we were told that a man had just proposed to his fiancé there, and she said yes!

The only entrance to the Founder’s Room is the golden brass door. The color was chosen to enhance the glory of the 32 Biblical scenes of Creation on the door. The door weighs 1,000 pounds and is polished monthly. A cutout tree on the door serves as a peephole, and a giant brass key opens the door. Notice the small square of white flowers in the grass in front of the door. That is Mr. Bok’s gravesite situated at the base of his beloved tower.

Once inside the Founder’s Room, you notice the soaring pink marble walls, intricate marble windows (each one carved in place from a single block of stone), hanging wrought iron lanterns, massive marble fireplace with Florida mural above, and elaborate tile floor.

The nature theme of the garden and tower are continued throughout the room. The wrought iron lanterns have birds encircling the top, and spider webs on the bottom. The wrought iron stairway leads to a second level, and from there an inner stairway ascends the tower. Alternatively, an original 1928 Otis elevator (the oldest in Florida) escorts people to the top. The eight levels of Bok Tower are (1) Founder’s Room at ground level; (2) Chao Research Center (archival room); (3) Storage and Mechanical Equipment Room; (4) Maintenance Workshop; (5) Carillon Library; (6) Carillon Player’s Office; (7) Carillon Bells and Soundproof Keyboard Playing Cabinet (bells are too loud to play directly beside them); and (8) Roof Top (statues, finials, and lightning rods).

The soaring ceiling is bricked over with a capstone in the middle. This marks the spot where the heavy carillon bells were hoisted up through the tower. Since the bells were too large to fit through the brass door, they entered the tower through the side. That location is now marked by the fireplace on the inside, and the sundial on the outside. The fireplace mantel contains a marble engraving of bell ringers beneath a quote by Bok’s grandmother, “Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it”. An elaborate mural over the fireplace shows an engraving of the State of Florida with Bok Tower in the middle, a sunrise above, flamingoes and alligator below, a figure blowing the wind and compass star on the left, a Spanish galleon on the upper right, and Neptune riding his horses in the sea at the bottom. Spectacular tiles cover the Founder’s Room floor. At the center of the colorful floor is the Star of Life. The six points of the star are said to symbolize the six days of Creation in the Book of Genesis in the Bible.  Surrounding it are various kinds of animal tiles.

One visit per year to the ground floor Founder’s Room is granted by appointment to sustaining members of Bok Tower Gardens. It is well worth the trip! A video tour of the inside of the tower is at: http://www.youtube.com/user/boktowergardens?feature=watch 

All of our posts on Bok Tower are at:  https://naturetime.wordpress.com/category/florida/gardens-florida/bok-tower-gardens-gardens/

Bok Tower Gardens: Huge Victoria Waterlilies!

Bok Tower and Reflection Pool with Victoria Waterlilies

ONE Victoria Waterlily Plant

Victoria Waterlily Pads with Pink Bloom

The Victoria waterlilies at Bok Tower Gardens are huge!  Plants are grown every year from a seed the size of a pea. This year the garden’s two Victoria waterlilies have grown exceptionally well.  Each waterlily has over 20 lilypads, and each pad is 5 feet wide!  Flowers are large too – up to a foot in diameter.  The first night the blooms are white, and the second night they are pink. The plants will grow until cooler weather arrives in November. 

Bok Tower Gardens: Favorite Flamingo and Pelican Carvings

Bok Tower: Flamingo Feeding Time Carving

Bok Tower: Pelicans with Fish Carving

Bok Tower: Pelican Pair Carving

My favorite stone carving on Bok Tower is the one showing feeding time for the flamingos.  The pelican carvings are also wonderful.  It took exceptional skill to carve the pink marble with such exquisite detail. 

Bok Tower Gardens: Beautiful Ceramic Tile Windows

Bok Tower and Palm Trees

Top of Bok Tower

Bok Ceramic Tile: Adam and Eve

Bok Ceramic Tiles: Tree of Life

Tree of Life Closeup with Baboons

Bok Ceramic Tile: Fish

At the top of Bok Tower are mosaic tile windows that encircle the carillon bells.  Each open-air window has a cast-iron filigree base that is covered with ceramic tiles.  The windows all have a Biblical theme.  The middle tile window with a balcony shows Adam and Eve with the serpent in the Garden of Eden.  The top tile windows show the Tree of Life, along with nesting birds, baboons, wood storks, and other wildlife.  These massive windows measure 35 feet tall by 10 feet wide.  The bottom tile windows show creatures that live in the sea.  The detail work on this tower is incredible!

Bok Tower Gardens: Words to Live By

Bok Tower Gardens Entrance

Bok Tower Gardens Quote

Bok “What is Blooming” Display

Pansies in the Garden

The “Singing Tower”

Bok Tower Gardens has a wonderful quote over its entrance:  “Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it”.    A table nearby always shows what is blooming in the garden.  It is a beautiful walk from there to the “Singing Tower” at the top of the hill. 

Bok Tower Gardens Bromeliads

Pink Bromeliad

Yellow Bromeliad

Bromeliad "Wall"

Bromeliad "Wall" Close-Up

The bromeliads at Bok Tower Gardens are stunning!  You eat a bromeliad fruit every time you eat a pineapple.

Bok Tower Stone Lantern

Bok Tower Stone Lantern

Bok Stone Lantern Dove

Near Bok Tower is a stone lantern that was given to the sanctuary by a Japanese gardener from Tokyo in 1955. The doves encircling the lantern symbolize the hope for world peace.

Bok Tower Colorful Koi

Bok Tower Koi

Koi Pair

Koi with Orange Spot

Koi with Colorful Eyes

Koi live in the moat surrounding Bok Tower.  They are very colorful!

Bok Tower Door Genesis Scenes

Bok Tower Golden Brass Door

Bok Genesis Door

Bok Genesis Door - Top

Bok Genesis Door - Middle

Bok Genesis Door - Bottom

At the base of Bok Tower is a golden brass door. The metalwork on the door depicts scenes from the Book of Genesis.  Easter sunrise services at the garden include music by choir, carillon bells, and bagpipes.  Visits to Bok Tower Gardens can be planned at this link:  http://boktowergardens.org/

Bok Tower Snake Images

Bok Tower Goose and Snake Carving

Bok Tower Sundial

Bok Tower Sundial Snake Gnomon

Snake images are featured on Bok Tower. The pink marble goose is looking down at the snake behind it. The snake gnomon timepiece on the sundial was re-leafed with 23k gold in Winter 2017 / Spring 2018.  Time is measured by the shadow cast by the snake.  It is spectacular!  The snake is an ancient Greek symbol for time.  The sundial covers the place where carillon bells entered the tower and were hoisted up to the top.  Symbols of the zodiac surround the marble dial. The beautiful “Singing Tower” was dedicated in 1929 and has been completely cleaned, sealed, and restored.  It is made of pink and gray marble from Georgia, and coquina shell rock from St. Augustine.  Sixty bell carillon concerts are given daily and on special occasions.  More info is at:  https://boktowergardens.org/

Bok Tower Pink Marble Wildlife Images

Bok Tower Flamingo Carving

Bok Tower Pelican Carving

Bok Tower Swan Carving

Bok Tower is decorated with wildlife images. Look closely and you will see pink marble carvings of pelicans, flamingos, and swans.

Bok Tower

Bok Tower

Bok Tower Gardens is a National Historic Landmark. It was built in 1929 by Edward Bok, who was Editor of Ladies Home Journal for 30 years. Bok hired Frederick Olmsted to design the garden, who was well known for his work on New York’s Central Park, Stanford University, the U.S. Capitol, and Niagara Falls.
Bok Tower is 205 feet tall and sits on top of Iron Ridge in Central Florida – it can be seen for miles around. The tower’s outside is covered with pink and white marble from Georgia, and coquina from Florida. The tower’s inside contains 60 carillon bells, which range in weight from 16 pounds to 11 tons. A live bell concert is performed daily at 1:00 and 3:00 pm, and short recordings are played throughout the day.

Florida: Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar (blue background)

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar (blue background)

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar (white background)

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar (white background)

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar  Face

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar
Face

Black Swallowtail Butterfly on Pink Zinnia Flower

Black Swallowtail Butterfly on Pink Zinnia Flower

We were so happy to find black swallowtail caterpillars in our flower bed last weekend.  We knew caterpillars are very hungry, so we went out and bought more fennel plants for them to eat.  They are growing fast, and will soon turn into beautiful butterflies!

Backyard: Don’t Forget the Little Things

Giant Tersa Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

Giant Tersa Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

Seldom-Seen Glass Lizard

Seldom-Seen Glass Lizard

Giant Florida Katydid

Giant Florida Katydid

Tiny Jumping Spider

Tiny Jumping Spider

Rainbow Scarab Beetle

Rainbow Scarab Beetle

Crab Spider (Spinybacked Orb Weaver)

Crab Spider (Spinybacked Orb Weaver)

Lubber Grasshopper

Lubber Grasshopper

Don’t forget to look for the little things in your backyard.  I bet you would be surprised at what is out there in the garden!  All of these creatures can be found outside the backdoor in Florida. 

Florida: Golden Rain Tree

Golden Rain Trees in Full Bloom

Flower-Covered Ground under Golden Rain Trees

Golden Rain Tree Flower Cluster

Although the calendar says Fall, it feels like spring in Florida.  This Golden Rain Tree was in full bloom last weekend at Bok Tower Gardens.  This gorgeous tree seems to “rain” yellow flowers!

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