Exploring in Lake Wales, Florida
Being a passionate native of her Florida roots, I’m almost embarrassed to say that I have only just visited Bok Tower Gardens for the first time and had only ever briefly heard about it in passing. Located in Lake Wales, atop of one of the highest points on the peninsula, this contemplative garden that is a place for one to feed their soul.
The scenic trek alone from the east coast to the center of the state along SR 60 to the gardens, takes one through fresh water marshes, upland hardwood forests, pine flatwoods, prairies and scrub forests illustrates the ecological diversity that this beautiful state has to offer. Once within proximity to the gardens, the Singing Tower can be seen standing picturesque above the surrounding agricultural farmland.
The architectural quality of the Gothic Revival and Art Deco tower, as designed by Milton B. Medary, is striking with its coquina stone, grey Creole marble and pink Etowah marble as it stands opposite of a large vegetated pool which length is able to reflect the whole 205-foot tower. The tower may be the centerpiece of the 250-acre garden, but I believe the real wonder of the place is the large swaths of visual texture designed my Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr, which features lush ferns, soaring sabal palms, arcing oak trees and towering pines. The mature tree canopies shading the mulch and paved pathways makes the journey through the gardens enjoyable even on a warm summer day.
Bok Tower Gardens is a beautifully composed sanctuary that also features the historic Pinewood Estate, a Meditteranian-style mansion design by architect Charles Wait, who took lead from landscape architect William Lyman Phillips of the Olmsted Brothers firm. Phillips designed the estate’s landscape and ornamental features, which include a formal Mediterranean-style garden, a stone grotto, gates, an English-style garden and reflecting pond. Designated a National Historic Landmark, Bok Tower Gardens is a clandestine, magical place that should be appreciated since it has so much to offer for its visitors both physically, mentally and spiritually.