Bok Tower and Gardens

Bok tower
Bok Tower

Every Holiday season I visit Bok Tower and Gardens.  The visitor’s center, café,  gift shop, and Pinewood estate glow with lovely festive plants and creative decorations.

Garden Entrance
Bok Tower Garden Entrance

Bok Tower has a great website where you can check out events, learn more about the Gardens and its founder Edward Bok and plan your day.  The visitor’s center is also a source of information on the gardens.

What's in Bloom?
What’s in Bloom?

The historic tower carillon bells chime with the sound of holiday music as they have since the garden opened in 1930 with daily and special concerts. Bok Tower is located near the town of Lake Wales in central Florida, about an hour from downtown Tampa.

We usually spend a half day here, but one could easily spend days photographing this ever-changing landscape, with its lovely collection of colorful plants, and still not see everything here. Certainly, one could spend weeks here with a camera.  Most gardens are macro photographer’s heaven and this place is no exception with lovely flowers and many butterflies.

Butterfly Visit
Monarch on a visit to Bok Tower

But the garden features an opportunity for the landscape or architectural photographer. My strategy is to circle through the gardens switching lenses with each circuit (OLYMPUS M.: 9-18mm, F4.0-5.6; 75-300mm, F4.8-6.7; and 12-50mm, F3.5-6.3).

Bok Tower, the Art Deco Tower/Neo-Gothic center piece of this garden, perches atop the highest elevation in Florida. The 205-foot tall Singing Tower is a great example from the Art Deco movement.

Art Deco Windows
Art Deco Windows are great examples from the Art Deco Era
Golden Door
Golden Door at the Singing Tower

Industrialist C. Austin Buck built Pinewood Estates, a twenty-room Mediterranean Revival mansion in the 1930s.  Bok Tower Gardens acquired the mansion in 1970. Holiday decorations abound.

Pinewood Estates
Pinewood Estates

The new Hammock Hollow Children’s Garden provides unique approach to encourage kids to get outdoors. I wish I’d had such a playground when I was growing up!

December is a great month to visit these gardens as in addition to the holiday decorations, the huge camellia collection starts to bloom.

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We at lunch at the Blue Palmetto Cafe at the Visitors Center. In addition to sandwiches and wraps they have beer, wine and snacks.

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