Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales consists of some 150 acres of manicured gardens offering numerous trails winding through rare and native plants and trees. In the center of the lush gardens stands a 205 foot tower built in 1929 by Edward W. Bok, a Dutch immigrant.
The tower was built of marble and coquina stone and houses a carillon of fifty-seven bronzed bells which range in weight from 17 pounds to nearly 12 tons. A carillon is a musical instrument composed of bronze bells which are played from a baton keyboard. The bells are played at regularly scheduled concerts and their music can be heard throughout the garden.
The tower walls have intricate carvings of Florida fauna and flora. Besides various flowers and trees, you can find cranes, herons, eagles, seahorses, jellyfish, pelicans, flamingos, geese, swans, foxes, storks, tortoises, hares, baboons, Adam and Eve, and the serpent. The brass door leading into the tower shows the Book of Genesis. The tower itself is surrounded by a twelve foot moat. Mr. Bok who was a long time editor of Ladies’ Home Journal, is buried in a crypt at the foot of the tower. Bok Tower Gardens is a National Historic Landmark.
As for birding, Mr. Bok wanted to create a sanctuary for what he called "the tired little singers of the sky." We have seen titmice, grackles, blue jays and doves on the property. Windows by the Pond, a small cabin with a huge picture window overlooking a small pond, affords a good look at local wood ducks, cardinals, and Red-wing blackbirds. Be sure to watch on the drive in for wild turkeys and gopher tortoises. 126 species of birds have recorded on the site.
While onsite be sure to visit the Pinewood Estate, a 12,700 square foot, 20-room mansion built as the winter home for C. Austin Buck, vice-president of Bethlehem Steel Co. The estate boasts a formal Mediterranean-style garden with a Cuban Spanish frog fountain, a coral grotto, an Asian-style Moon Gate Garden and an English-style country garden with a lawn and pond.
Visit the Bok Sanctuary web site HERE. Unfortunately the tower itself is closed to the public, but the gardens offer a wonderful tranquil walk through some often spectacular blooming plants.
"Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it."