Tuesday, March 29, 2011

BOK Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, FL

After leaving Daytona, I headed over to Lake Wales to visit BOK Tower Gardens. Located in central Florida, this National Historic Landmark is definitely off the beaten path. Since I have a love of architecture and historic buildings, I was determined to visit this place before I left the state. I make a habit of visiting as much interesting architecture and landmarks as I can when I am traveling for work or pleasure. It is amazing how many landmarks exist in the USA and how many are in disrepair. Fortunately, BOK is listed as a National Historic Landmark and receives federal money to assist in the maintenance and upkeep of this beautiful tower and gardens.

BOK Tower was conceived by Edward Bok, a Dutch born American, who was a wildly successful editor and Pulitzer Prize winning author. He built the Singing Tower in 1929 to give back to the people of America. To read more about Bok, click here and here.

The Singing Tower was designed by architect Milton B. Medary and made to house a Carillon. The gardens surrounding the Tower were designed by Frederick Law Olmstead Jr.

There was an air plant exhibit at the gardens. They strung the plants with wire which made them look like they were floating in air. It looked really dynamic in person.

A section of the visitor center had a path where stones were set into concrete on end. The stones were sticking up about 3/4" from the concrete. It created a neat visual rhythm and felt good beneath the feet. If I had been barefoot, I might have felt differently about it.

Attached to the Tower and gardens is the Pinewood Estate. I took a tour of the house and the kitchen had this great overflow design in the kitchen sink. 

Outside the house.

Tile fountain in the courtyard.

Walled garden attached to the dining room of the house.

Beautiful blooms while walking the grounds.

What is Florida without some oranges?!

Throughout the gardens are these rubbing stands. You place paper over the tiles and rub the image onto it. It's a fun detail to find throughout a walk of the gardens.

This view shows the typical English landscape style of the Olmsteads. However, to see it with South East trees and plantings makes it very different then the typical North East ones I am used to seeing, like the one below.

Boston Public Garden photo via http://www.imaginativeamerica.com/tag/parks/

And finally, here is a picture of one of the swans that tried to bite me while I was taking pictures of the Tower. Aggressive little suckers... Just as I yelped and jumped back from the blaring teeth of this bird, a group of white hairs exploded in laughter. Have I mentioned that when I go to visit these historic places, I am the youngest by about 40 years?! They're lucky my parents raised me to respect my elders or their canes would be floating in the water here....

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