I visited Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida with my parents on Easter 2021. They had wanted to hear the sixty-bell carillon that plays daily. We sat in a large field of grass. Children and dogs played nearby. I was told to expect recognizable tunes, but all I could hear was rambling cacophony. It was okay.
Near to the tower, it is obscured by trees, but the top of it pokes above and can be seen from miles away. The hill it is on is allegedly the tallest point in Florida outside of the panhandle.
The gardens and tower are the brainchild of author Edward Bok, who hired landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted Junior and architect Milton Medary. The land was first made available to the public in 1929.
The gardens themselves are only about a million square feet, but they are surrounded by orange groves and fields cut through by trails. Inside the garden area are many sub-gardens, such as the carnivorous plant garden, the endangered plant garden, and the children’s garden.
There are numerous sculptures too. The Japanese lantern was a gift to Mr. Bok for his efforts in promoting world peace. People have stuffed coins into it for some reason.
Everywhere are little things that make the place magical, like the bird footprints in the walkway. Even the bee houses are artistic.
The numerous ponds are full of large fish, but they do not show up on camera. However, I did spy a snake!
It would be impossible to take pictures of everything, but here are some highlights:
My favorite section was the Hammock Hollow Children’s Garden. There is a dual entrance. One is just big enough for six-year-olds, while the other fits grown-ups. Just inside is a turtle sculpture. Different sections contain different wonders. I saw a gigantic robin nest, a sandbox, a spider web for climbing, a xylophone and other instruments, and a sand pit filled with smooth stones. On these stones were written words that could be arranged into sentences for hours.
Near the nest were several tiny houses on pedestals. They reminded me of gingerbread houses, but these were built to survive the outdoors.
I never did finish going down every trail before it was time to leave. This is a place one can visit again and again. There were so many wonderful things that I dared not blink for fear of missing something.
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.