Bok Tower Gardens
Bok Tower Gardens
|Contact Address||1151 Tower Boulevard
Lake Wales, FL 33853-3470
|Hours of Operation||Bok Tower Gardens is open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Last admission from the entrance gate is at 5 p.m.
The Visitor Center, Blue Palmetto Café and Tower & Garden Gift Shop are open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. with limited hours on holidays.
Bok Tower Gardens is haven for wildlife and the human experience. It blends the beauty of nature and the intrigue of history with an outstanding collection of camellias. Bok Tower Gardens is a nearly 50 acre garden located in the town of Lake Wales in Central Florida. It was dedicated in 1929 as a gift to the American public by Edward W. Bok who immigrated to America from the Netherlands when he was 6 years old. Mr. Bok became a successful publisher, author and humanitarian who wanted to give back to his adopted country. The Gardens sits at 298 feet above sea level and has wonderful vistas of the surrounding citrus groves.
Bok Tower Gardens features one of the greatest works of famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. The historic landscape garden was designed to be a contemplative and informal woodland setting offering a series of romantic recesses and tranquil resting spots, picturesque vistas and breathtaking views of the Tower. Acres of ferns, palms, oaks and pines fashion a lush backdrop for flowering foliage and the spectacular seasonal color of azaleas, camellias.
The Tower was designed by Milton Medary and includes an elegant and sophisticated mix of neo-Gothic and art deco features. It’s crafted from coquina stone quarried in St. Augustine, Florida, as well as pink and gray marble from Tate, Georgia. The base is 51-feet square and tapers to an octagonal shape at the 150-foot level as it reaches into the sky.
Acquired in the 1970’s Pinewood estate a 20 room Mediterranean-style mansion captures the essence of Spanish Mediterranean architecture and landscaping, and retains numerous camellias dating from the original 1930’s planting.
Originally named “El Retiro,” meaning “retreat” in Spanish, the Estate was built in the early 1930s for Charles Austin Buck, a Bethlehem Steel vice president. Now this historic Estate is open for tours throughout the year to visitors of Bok Tower Gardens.
About the Camellia Collection
The earliest record of interest in camellias is in a letter from 1927 that states “Camellias give promise of doing well here and they could appropriately be introduced into the garden”. Since then, camellias have been added steadily.
Currently there are many large specimens and a host of cultivars ranging from heirlooms to new hybrids. Since then camellias have been added throughout the Gardens history.