Subscribe to RSS

Discover your creativity! Watercolor Club w/Owen Jolly starts Jan. 29

By Comments

Owen Jolly works with students on basic and advanced watercolor techniques.

Less formal than watercolor classes, instructor Owen Jolly leads demonstrations, plein-air and self-directed activities. Intermediate and advanced students explore painting techniques and drawing skills… and how to harness your creativity!

The Garden Watercolor Club will meet on Thursdays January 29 to April 16 from 9 a.m. – noon in the Olmsted House. Spring fees are $200 per person.

About Owen Jolly

Born in Jamaica, West Indies, Owen Jolly has always had a lifelong interest in the arts. What began as simple comic book illustrations in elementary school has since developed into a career as a coveted portraiture whose work is now featured in both public and private collections.

Owen Jolly’s path to success began his senior year of high school when the young artist entered two portraits in the Jamaica National Festival of Arts.  A portrait of then Prime Minister, Bustamanta received critical acclaim that later earned Jolly a scholarship to study at the Jamaican School of Art.

Upon graduation Jolly began teaching classes at Clarendon College where he would educate aspiring artists for the next 17 years. He took a brief break from teaching to expand on his own artistic initiatives, commencing with his first solo art show at the esteemed Fame Center Gallery in Kingston, Jamaica. Returning to his elementary roots, he developed his drawing techniques as an illustrator at the well known Manhattan based Southside Graphics.

Realizing his true passion was in helping other artist refine their artistic abilities, he became a certified public school teacher in New Jersey before relocating to Sebring, Florida in 2005. Jolly continues to inspire local Floridians through hands-on instruction during his various art classes and workshops.

New Partnership With University of Florida/IFAS Underway

By Comments

Center for Education and Conservation1

A new partnership is emerging between the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and historic Bok Tower Gardens.

The partnership between the state’s preeminent land-grant university and this historic garden will provide onsite demonstration gardens, education programs and conservation research, as well as outreach programs to help people better see, appreciate, and connect with plants. A new school and community gardens program has already begun operations to teach food gardening to students and residents.

UF/IFAS Extension and Gardens officials celebrated this partnership and the beginning of construction on a new education building on January 9.

The new facility will enable UF/IFAS Extension to expand its presence at the Gardens and will house regional UF Extension agents, faculty and program staff, as well as Gardens education and conservation staff.

“This beautiful, serene place will become a hub for UF/IFAS Extension programming, allowing our agents and faculty, along with Bok staff, to teach new generations of people an understanding of where their food comes from and how it is grown, along with taking care of the plants and trees around them,” said Nick Place, UF dean and director for Extension. “Once the program is operational here, we plan to bring it to regional schools and communities and, eventually, the entire state.”

Through this long-term partnership, Bok and UF/IFAS Extension will promote school and community gardening, native-plant and wildlife gardening, and garden classes through existing IFAS programs such as Florida Friendly Landscaping.

“This partnership is an exciting chapter in our history to be able to affect positive change in the larger community,” said David Price, president of Bok Tower Gardens. “Edward Bok’s legacy has been to ‘make the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it.’ There is a need to connect people with plants on which our survival and quality of life depend. Food production and the environment are determined by the plants we grow.”

“We are in the midst of implementing a master plan that will create new garden experiences, and the opportunity to partner with UF/IFAS Extension enhances these spaces and the programming that we will be able to offer,” Price said.

UF/IFAS is a federal-state-county partnership dedicated to developing knowledge in agriculture, human and natural resources, and the life sciences, and enhancing and sustaining the quality of human life by making that information accessible. With agricultural Extension offices in all 67 Florida counties, UF/IFAS has developed an international reputation for its accomplishments in teaching, research and extension.

As part of the expansion, a new outdoor kitchen and edible garden will feature plants from harvest to table through culinary programs and chef demonstrations. Elsewhere in the Gardens, visitors will be able to explore a new wetland and the wildlife it will attract.

Volunteer at the Gardens! Learn more at Job Fair Jan. 16

By Comments

Volunteers assisting in our Knoll restoration project

Ready to learn new skills, meet new people, and have fun? Join the staff of Bok Tower Gardens at its annual Volunteer Job Fair on Friday, January 16 at 2 p.m.

Information will be available from a variety of Gardens’ departments that offer volunteer opportunities. Once a volunteer donates 50 hours of service or more, they earn a tour of the Singing Tower, membership to the Gardens, and numerous other benefits.

“This is a great opportunity for individuals of all ages to learn new things, make wonderful friends, and have a rewarding experience all while having fun,” explains Visitor Services Manager Rachel Henderson.

Garden guides will be trained to lead daily tours of the historic Olmsted gardens and docents are needed to conduct tours of Pinewood Estate, a 20-room Mediterranean-style mansion on Gardens property. Other volunteer opportunities include: Information Desk hosts; weddings and special events; shuttle drivers; tour guides for children; and assistance with clerical, office and special projects, Café, Gift Shop, Plant Shop, and many more.

To R.S.V.P. for the Job Fair or to learn more about volunteer opportunities at Bok Tower Gardens, contact Rachel Henderson at (863) 734-1211 or

D’hollander to Perform with his 9-Year-Old Daughter on Christmas Day

By Comments

"The Tower" by Matthew Wilson

Christmas Day at Bok Tower Gardens will certainly be a very memorable experience for everyone in attendance.

In addition to complimentary Holiday Home Tours of Pinewood Estate for the first 1,000 visitors, Gardens carillonneur Geert D’hollander will share his 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. performances with a very special guest.

For the first time, D’hollander’s 9-year-old daughter, Rosalie, will join her father in the Tower’s playing cabin to perform a heartfelt duet of “Silent Night.”

100th Anniversary of the 1914 First World War Christmas Truce

On Christmas Eve 1914, as darkness descended upon a brutal landscape of trenches, barbed wire, and broken earth, music and songs suddenly replaced the deadly din of bullets and shells along the Western Front. The sound of carols rising from the German lines prompted curious British, Belgian and French soldiers to raise their heads above the parapet. In the distance, they could see the glow of candles on small Christmas trees. Germans were also seen peering back. No shots were fired. Tantalizingly, some soldiers raised their heads higher. The men exchanged salutations. Enemies inched closer and eventually met. They shook hands, agreeing a truce for the following day.

On Christmas morning they met again. They held joint religious services and helped to bury each other’s dead. Throughout the day, they shared tea and coffee, wine, beer, cognac, chocolate, and food sent from home. They swapped cap badges and buttons, and showed
one another photographs of their families and loved ones. They even posed for photographs together. British historian Piers Brendon called it “the most extraordinary celebration of Christmas since those notable goings-on in Bethlehem.”

Worldwide Carillon Concert Celebration

To recall this remarkable moment of hope and humanity, a worldwide carillon concert will be staged which will begin on the Peace Carillon in Messines, Belgium. Messines was at the heart of the 1914 Christmas Truce and is increasingly being recognized as the “City of the Christmas Truce.”

Messines Peace Carillon is a collection of bells, donated from all over the world, appealing for peace every day, and is due to undergo a major refurbishment during the next four years. Don Mullan, Irish author and Associate Chair of UNESCO’s Global Youth Program, is the originator of the Christmas Truce Commemoration and the Flanders Peace Field Project, currently being developed in Messines. Mullan presented the idea of the Christmas Truce Commemoration last summer at the 2014 Congress of the World Carillon Federation in Antwerp, Flanders. The Royal Carillon School “Jef Denyn”, Mechelen (Belgium) agreed to support the idea of the commemoration and to send an invitation to all carillonneurs worldwide.

The Peace Carillon at Messines will play at 19:14 hrs on Christmas Eve, beginning with “Silent Night – Stille Nacht,” a Christmas Carol sung simultaneously in three languages during the 1914 Christmas Truce.

Carillonneurs across the globe will join the celebration of the centenary of the Christmas Truce by performing on the 24th or 25th of December the famous Christmas song “Silent Night.” Carillonneurs in Belgium, France, Ireland, Japan and the USA have agreed to participate, including Geert D’hollander and his 9-year-old daughter, Rosalie.

A very special moment, indeed.

New Bromeliad Christmas Tree at Bok Tower Gardens

By Comments

Bromeliad Christmas Tree at Bok Tower Gardens, 2014

This new 15-foot-tall Christmas tree was created with nearly 400 bromeliads and can be seen in the Visitor Center during the Christmas at Bok Tower Gardens celebration now through January 4, 2015. Pictures don’t do it justice; you’ve got to see it for yourself – simply amazing!

Holiday Home Tour Reaches 20-Year Milestone

By Comments

Lucy's Bedroom_Holiday Home Tour

Twenty years ago, Bok Tower Gardens was still discovering the possibilities of Pinewood Estate, the 1932 Mediterranean-style mansion on Gardens property, built as a winter retreat by Bethlehem Steel Vice President Charles Austin Buck. After the Gardens purchased the home in 1970, staff and volunteers spent years restoring its architecture, furnishings and gardens. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, the home hosted a range of groups and visitors by appointment only. Then in 1994, Pinewood Estate & Gardens was opened to the public for guided tours, and just 571 people visited the home.

The same year, an event called Christmas at Pinewood was created to host a holiday showcase throughout the estate, opening the day after Thanksgiving and closing after the first of the year. Visitors paid for a ticket and entered the mansion to enjoy elegant decorations arranged by selected interior designers.

Over the years, the popularity of the home tour has grown tremendously, as has the importance of the holiday season at Bok Tower Gardens. So much so that in 2008, we officially re-branded our holiday season as Christmas at Bok Tower Gardens. This celebration is more than a month long and focuses on traditional holiday activities for all ages.

Today, the Holiday Home Tour at Pinewood Estate is our largest fundraiser of the year, hosting host more than 15,000 visitors annually. Every dollar raised through holiday admission tickets and activities goes right back into the Gardens.

This year, Bok Tower Gardens celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Holiday Home Tour at Pinewood Estate with 1930s vintage style. The home is being decorated by a range of talented local businesses and designers, community volunteers and partners. This year’s home design isn’t based on a single theme as in the past, but instead is a “Best Christmas Ever” edition featuring select design themes from the past 19 years. Each room will be different, as no theme is being duplicated anywhere in the house.

New this year, we’re introducing a group of patrons called The Amaryllis Club. Inspired by the history and beauty of Pinewood Estate, members of The Amaryllis Club have raised funds to purchase new holiday decorations and are decorating the Living Room as part of this year’s Holiday Home Tour. Their mission is to promote and preserve the heritage and vintage style of this historic home, and to take on other special projects on behalf of the Gardens.

1 2 3 16