Tower Construction Journals Donated

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Horace H. Burrell (second from right) stands with Samuel Yellin, Milton B. Medary and his son, Edward Burrell
Horace H. Burrell (second from right) stands with Samuel Yellin, Milton B. Medary and his son, Edward Burrell


tower-sketchBok Tower Gardens was recently contacted by Larry Ellis, great grandson of Mr. Horace Burrell, who served as the builder for the Singing Tower. Mr. Ellis and his wife, Norma, drove all the way from Ashburn, VA to hand deliver a collection of personal effects once belonging to Mr. Burrell and his son, Edward. The collection includes two handwritten journals, a scrapbook of news articles and numerous photographs, all detailing the Tower’s construction.

larry-ellis-and-wifeDue to the generosity of Mr. & Mrs. Ellis, we now have greater insight into specific materials used in the Tower’s construction, the men working on the project, expenses related to Horace’s trips down from Pennsylvania, as well as some never-before-seen photographs. We are proud to have these materials as part of our collections and look forward to exploring them further. Thanks to Mr. & Mrs. Ellis for this wonderful donation!
materials list

Giant Victoria Water Lilies are Back!

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featured-liliesIt’s summertime, which means the giant water lilies have returned to the Reflection Pool. Our Victoria Longwood Hybrid Lilies (Victoria x ‘Longwood Hybrid’) are planted every spring, late April to early May, in large submerged containers in the pool. In central Florida, they do not live through the winter and need to be replanted yearly.

Grown from a seed the size of a pea, the lily pads soon grow to six feet across or more, generally reaching full size in June and lasting until November, making them our biggest and most popular annual. When first planted, they are fertilized weekly until well established, as they are heavy feeders. The leaves are able to support about 70 pounds of weight, but are very easily damaged by animals or falling objects.

The giant lilies are night blooming, featuring large flowers that open for just two nights. The first night it is white, the second pink. The flowers close when the sun moves overhead around 9 a.m. The lilies are pollinated by the scarab beetle, and last year several seeds from the year before germinated in the Reflection Pool and grew to full size. The seedling plants were smaller than the F1 hybrid, but did retain the leaf and flower color of the larger plants.

Welcome New Director of Education Tricia Martin

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btg internal personnelPhoto TriciaMartin 318x576px
The Gardens welcomes our new Director of Education Tricia Martin to the team. Tricia comes to us with significant senior level, non-profit experience focusing on conservation, education, fundraising, and community relations.

Tricia’s career at the Gardens actually began more than 25 years ago when she served as our Curator of Education from 1990-1994. More recently, she developed programs that supported the mission of Archbold Biological Station in nearby Venus, FL and directed conservation initiatives for The Nature Conservancy.

Getting to know Tricia, in her own words, “I have two children and love to eat good food. I do a lot of cooking, love to read, and practice yoga. I’m also a biking enthusiast, and the West Orange Trail is one of my favorite rides.”

Tricia will work to develop partnerships between teachers, education specialists, businesses and community groups, using Edward Bok’s story as a source of inspiration. Her overarching goals are to: spark imaginations; cultivate a sense of wonder and discovery; develop programs to enhance social, environmental and community awareness; and provide children with empowering moments.

Bok Tower Gardens: Making the World a Bit More Beautiful

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Photo by Chad Baumer

We were recently featured on on with “Bok Tower Gardens: Making the World a Bit More Beautiful,” one of the top sites for Florida Condos for Sale, including Orlando, Florida real estate.

‘Gypsy Jazz’ John Jorgenson at Concert Under the Stars Apr. 25

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Concert Under the Stars 2014_crowd

The annual springtime Concert Under The Stars takes place at the Gardens Saturday, April 25 at 7 p.m., featuring an unforgettable evening of Gypsy Jazz with The John Jorgenson Quintet. Violinist Ashley Liberty and pianist Daniel Strange will open the show.

“This year’s Concert Under The Stars takes guests back to the Parisian jazz haunts of the 1930s and 1940s,” says Brian Ososky, Director of Marketing and Public Relations. “The music has a swinging, upbeat sound that will really connect with concert-goers. John Jorgenson is one of the best in the business, and people are going to be blown away when they hear him on the guitar; it’s unbelievable.”

The group’s style has been called Gypsy Jazz after the dynamic string-driven swing created by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli in 1930′s Paris, but Jorgenson’s compositions draw in elements from Latin, Romanian, Classical, Rock and Greek styles, so “21st-Century World Music” is perhaps a more apt description.

Known for his blistering guitar licks and mastery of a broad musical palette, Jorgenson has earned a reputation as a world-class musician and guitarist who has collaborated with the likes of Elton John, Luciano Pavarotti, Bonnie Raitt and Bob Dylan. In addition to acoustic and electric guitars, he is also regularly featured on the saxophone, clarinet, bouzouki, pedal steel, mandolin and vocals, and has garnered recognition for contributing to numerous platinum-selling and Grammy-winning albums.

According to The New York Times, “Jorgenson is perhaps the best jazz guitarist alive.”

“The music is going to be fantastic, but it’s also about the whole experience in the unique, outdoor setting of our Great Lawn,” Ososky said. “There’s nothing quite like relaxing with friends and family on picnic blankets and camp chairs on a sprawling green hillside and enjoying three hours of live music with the 205-foot Bok Tower as your backdrop.”

Gardens’ carillonneur Geert D’hollander will give a special pre-concert performance on the Singing Tower carillon. There will also be a picnic contest with prizes awarded for Best Americana picnic, Best Jazz picnic, and Best Overall.

Ticket prices for the 2015 edition of “Concert Under The Stars” are $20 in advance ($18 members), and $8 children ages 5 to 12.  Day-of-show tickets are slightly higher at $25 adults and $10 children. PURCHASE TICKETS HERE.


Omar Sosa Concert & Reception April 9 – SOLD OUT!

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The Second Annual Jewel of the Ridge Jazz Festival has expanded in 2015 to include an exclusive concert and reception in the intimate setting of Pinewood Estate at Bok Tower Gardens.

Omar Sosa featured1On Thursday, April 9 at 7:30 p.m. Omar Sosa’s Quarteto AfroCubano bring their Afro-Cuban based mix of jazz and world music to the 1932 Mediterranean-style mansion, followed by an exclusive cocktail reception with the artists. This concert event is being presented in partnership with the Polk State College Lake Wales Arts Center.

From each culture he touches, Omar Sosa draws the energy and storytelling of hip-hop, the free-spirited experimentation of jazz, the heartfelt emotion of an Afro-Ecuadorian choir, and the sensuality of popular Cuban music. The result is a modern, urban music with a Latin jazz heart.

“It’s going to feel like you’re visiting a jazz club on the west coast or in New York,” says Osubi Craig, M.A., Polk State Lake Wales Arts Center director, who created and organized the event to coincide with Jazz Appreciation Month in April.

“You don’t really listen to an Omar Sosa concert so much as experience it,” says Craig, about the Cuban-born pianist whose demeanor exudes a sense of calm, while a spiritual connection to music comes through in his piano playing. “This is an intimate setting where only 50 people will have the rare treat of getting a ‘backstage pass’ to meet and talk with an artist of his caliber.”

Omar Sosa piano-2The seven-time Grammy-nominated pianist, composer and bandleader emigrated from Cuba in 1993. In 2003, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Smithsonian Associates for his contribution to the development of Latin jazz in the United States.

Sosa’s fresh and original urban sound fuses a wide range of jazz, world music, hip-hop and electronic elements with his native Afro-Cuban roots. Sosa is joined by fellow Camagüeyanos, Ernesto Simpson on drums, Leandro Saint-Hill on saxophone, flute and clarinet, and Mozambican electric bassist Childo Tomas.

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