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Bok Tower Gardens

Bok Tower Gardens is located on peninsular Florida's highest point (298 feet). The centerpiece of the Gardens is the magnificent bell tower, housing one of the world's great carillons. Bok Tower Gardens provides its visitors with the opportunity to experience Florida's natural beauty first-hand with:

Wildlife Observatory
Pine Ridge Nature Trail
Endangered Plant Exhibit
Butterfly and Bird Watching
Woodland Garden

The Pine Ridge Preserve at Bok Tower Gardens is a Longleaf Pine-Turkey Oak habitat. Similar pine communities once covered millions of acres in the Southeastern United States. In ancient times, when ocean levels were higher, the Lake Wales Ridge was above water and formed a chain of islands. Many plants and animals unique to the Ridge evolved on these ancient islands. The Longleaf Pine forest is now in danger of disappearing. Fortunately, we have been able to preserve a small portion of this habitat. While walking along the trail, the flora visitors will see include longleaf pines (Pinus palustris), wiregrass (Aristida beyrichiana), scrub live oaks (Quercus geminata), sand pines (Pinus clausa), prickly pear cacti (Opuntia humifusa) and more. The fauna to be seen includes numerous butterflies, birds, gopher tortoises, indigo snakes and more.

On site, Bok Tower Gardens has a Conservation Nursery that cultivates many rare and endangered plant species. These plants are propagated in the nursery to hopefully be reintroduced to their native habitats in the future. Bok Tower Gardens is a participating institution of the Center for Plant Conservation and currently is working with about 20 native, rare and endangered species.

Currently, our education programs include Young Naturalists Discovery Days, A Garden Classroom Curriculum for 4th Grade, Teacher Resource Kits for check out on Rare/Endangered Plants, an Adopt-a-Plant Program for rare plants and guided tours of the gardens.

With its majestic moss-covered oak trees and sweeping vistas, Bok Tower Gardens offers an experience unlike any in Central Florida. This National Historic Landmark, located on the peninsula's highest point, is invitingly quiet and serene. Here, wildlife is unafraid and will not flee from you.

So it is with this lifelong lesson that Edward W. Bok, Dutch immigrant, writer, publisher and humanitarian, built the Gardens and dedicated it to the American people in 1929. His goal was to provide a sanctuary for people and animals alike - a goal that is still realized today by the staff and many volunteers of Bok Tower Gardens.

The visual centerpiece of this magnificent garden is Bok's Singing Tower, an unrivaled work of art reaching 205' into the sky. Built to house a 60-bell carillon, the Tower's untouchable beauty intrigues visitors alike. Constructed of pink and gray marble from Georgia and coquina stone from St. Augustine, the tower is rich in carvings depicting the flora and fauna of Florida.

Recitals are heard daily at 3 p.m. with clock music on the half-hour starting at 10 a.m. The tower is closed to the public, but visitors may enjoy permanent exhibits in the Education and Visitor Center depicting the interior of the tower as well as the carillon instrument.

The surrounding 157-acre woodland gardens offer a place of solitude and relaxation. Visitors, strolling the many pathways leading to the tower, enjoy seasonal blooms, friendly animals, and special events throughout the year. The Pine Ridge Preserve offers a one-mile trail where visitors may enjoy the rare plants and animals of Florida's ancient sandhill, as well as the more common longleaf pines and turkey oaks. Window By the Pond nature observatory gives a glimpse of daily life in a freshwater pond.

Pinewood Estate, a 20-room Mediterranean Revival-style villa, is open seasonally. Offering guided tours to the public, the estate stands as one of the finest examples of this type of architecture in the state of Florida.

Copyright © 2010 The Florida Geographic Alliance