Bok Tower Gardens is a jewel of a garden located in Central Florida.
Perched atop Iron Mountain, the highest point in peninsular Florida at 324 ft above sea level, Bok Tower Gardens includes an impressive 126 varieties of plant life and a gorgeous pink marble carillon.
The gardens themselves were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., the most distinguished landscape architect of the early 1900's. Olmstead designed such well known public places as the White House, the National Zoo, and the Washington National Cathedral. Olmstead's father designed Central Park in New York. While some of the plants present are not native to Florida, Bok Tower also has a Florida endangered species garden.
Bok Tower Gardens is named for the 205 foot neo-Gothic pink marble "Singing Tower" which sits at the peak of Iron Mountain. The tower houses a 60 bell carillon which plays concerts daily over the gardens.
Why visit in February and March? Well, for one thing it is some of the best weather Florida has to offer. Often cool and dry, February and March are gorgeous times of the year to visit the Sunshine State. But the best reason to visit has to be the azaleas and camellias. Peak Bloom usually occurs throughout February but can start in January and bleed into March. We've visited the Gardens during peak bloom several times over the years and it is truly spectacular. The gardens leading up to the singing tower are a cascade of pinks, corals, whites, and tie-dye azalea flowers. Everywhere you look, you will see another new plant to investigate.
For those wanting to visit Bok tower garden, I recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes, bringing a good camera, and a water bottle. If you'll be taking photos of yourself and your family, I recommend this small, lightweight tripod (like this one, which I love for backpacking) and if you're using a dSLR camera, a small remote like this one (Sony), this one (Nikon) or this one (Canon). This will allow you to easily take gorgeous family photos or get a sharp macro shot of your favorite plants. I have personally purchased each of the products above, for myself and for family, and can honestly say they are great and inexpensive.
Did you know Bok Tower Gardens is a private botanical garden? This means you can bring in your own picnic, including wine or beer if you are so inclined. Alternatively, you can purchase lunch from the Blue Palmetto Cafe located near the welcome center for a wonderful lunch. The chef at the cafe has great taste and routinely has seasonal specialties using local ingredients.
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