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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.

Register today for ‘Discovery Days’ Summer Camp

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Looking for a series of engaging, outdoor programs for your child to attend this summer?

Children ages 6-12 years will discover nature through various hands-on activities as they venture out into the Gardens. Each Discovery Days session celebrates a different aspect of nature through themed activities, projects, and garden explorations that keep young minds actively learning while investigating the mysteries and magic of nature! Each session includes lunch and a take-home project.

GiveWell-logoThirty-three (33) Discovery Days scholarships are available to children of qualified Polk County residents on a first-come, first-served basis. This program is funded through a grant from The GiveWell Community Foundation. THE APPLICATION PERIOD CLOSED JUNE 1, 2015.


Winners at Concert Under the Stars!

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Here is the list of winners from our Concert Under the Stars prize drawing, as well as our picnic contest winners. Thanks to everyone who participated, and we look forward to seeing you again next year!

Prize Drawing Winners:

VIP Tower Tour ~ Wendy Harvey

Pinewood Dinner for Eight ~ Tim Rennie

Gift Certificate ~ Karen Carter

Picnic Contest Winners:

Best Americana Picnic
“Good Old American Football with The Miami Dolphins”

Best Jazz Picnic
“All That Jazz”

Best Overall
“The JB Show”

‘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.

Bring on the Blooms!

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Grab your cameras! Peak bloom season has officially arrived at Bok Tower Gardens, and it's one of the best times of year to visit!

During Peak Bloom, an annual rite of spring, visitors can observe more than 150 varieties of camellias and hundreds of azaleas along with nun’s orchids, irises, coral bean, Mexican flame vine, and other flowering plants as they create an explosion of color throughout the Gardens. Guests are encouraged to return throughout the bloom season to experience Mother Nature’s ever-changing palette of colors— and to take plenty of pictures.

“Our azaleas always steal the show, “says Greg Kramer, Gardens’ director of horticulture. “And the best time to visit is right now into the first few weeks of March while the bloom cycles for camellias and azaleas are overlapping.”

Violas, snapdragons, dianthus, delphiniums, holly hocks and other annuals also escort the arrival of spring with glorious displays of color. Trees in bloom include native plums and deciduous magnolias.

In Florida, seasons are gauged as being either rainy or dry, and flowering plants bloom in response to this water cycle. Additionally, chilly days with temperatures in the low ‘30s (without freezing) yield the most colorful, vibrant blooms. Winters with a hard freeze will cause azaleas to bloom all at once, while warmer winters yield blooms over a longer period of time.

Camellia at Bok Tower Gardens

Visitors can learn about the flora, fauna and history of the Gardens during hour-long guided garden walking tours through April 15, included with general admission. Tour hours are Monday through Saturday at noon and 2 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tours meet at the Visitor Center.

What began as nearly 50 acres of woodland gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. has grown to more than 600 acres of woodland gardens, nature trails, conservation lands and groves. The visual centerpiece of the Gardens is the 205-foot art deco and neo-Gothic Singing Tower, a pink marble and coquina stone architectural treasure that houses one of the world’s finest carillons. The 60 carillon bells ring every half hour and during daily concerts at 1 and 3 p.m.

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