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

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"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

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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

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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.

Gardens to Break Ground Oct. 24 on Largest Expansion in 85-Year History

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Edward Bok Groundbreaking_featured

Gold Shovel groundbreakingBe part of history in the making! Join the Bok Tower Gardens Board of Directors and special guests for a groundbreaking ceremony on the site of our new garden spaces.

Afterward, visit the future sites of our children’s garden, outdoor kitchen, pollinator garden, and wild garden.

In 1922, there was just a large sandhill, longleaf pines, a shovel, and Edward Bok’s vision. In 1994, our Board of Directors broke ground to build the current Visitor Center. And on Friday, October 24, 2014, hundreds will gather to make history again at Bok Tower Gardens.

Gifts received to date for the Preserve the Legacy, Steward the Future capital campaign are fueling the start of Phase I projects this fall, including pathwork, Tower and Gardens restoration, and several new garden spaces. To date, we have raised $10.45 million of the $12 million needed to complete all the projects.

To celebrate, we will hold a Groundbreaking Ceremony October 24 at 11 a.m. behind the Visitor Center. This will be followed by docent tours to the sites of the children’s garden, kitchen garden, pollinator garden, and wild garden.

Refreshments will be served in the Visitor Center where guests can learn more about our new garden spaces.

Please join us for this landmark event! Admission is free between 8 – 11 a.m. Before you attend, please add your name to our guestbook.

Boktoberfest Plant Sale This Saturday!

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Celebrate our sixth annual plant sale with free admission to the Gardens, featuring more than 40 plant vendors from around Florida, live entertainment, German food, craft beers, children’s activities, live carillon music, and guest garden speakers ready to help you kick off the Florida planting season with great gardening tips.


For a complete schedule, list of plant vendors and other event information, visit!

Grab your lederhosen and join us for the sixth annual Boktoberfest Plant Sale on Saturday, October 18 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.! The event features live entertainment, German food, craft beers, tree climbing, activities for kids, and much more!

“Boktoberfest celebrates the start of Florida’s gardening season,” explains David Price, Gardens’ president, “where plant lovers and gardeners can come to find a wide variety of Florida plants and learn from experts to help make the most of their garden.”

Our Members Only Plant Sale Preview is Friday, October 17 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Members get exclusive access to the plant sale before it opens to the public. Skip the crowds, meet the vendors, and get first pick of plants and other natural products. Not a member? Sign up today!

Some of the plants for sale will include orchids, palms, trees, tropical fruits, Florida natives, ferns, bamboo, roses, heliconias, bromeliads, tillandsia air plants and water lilies. Education will be provided by Master Gardeners, plant societies, garden clubs and the UF-IFAS Extension Service. Expert gardeners will host free educational workshops throughout the day.

This year’s festivities will again feature the Jimmy & Eckhard Oktoberfest Show, a three-member lederhosen ensemble performing authentic German music. The group plays instruments from Germany, Austria and Switzerland including long Swiss alphorns the size of trees; a wooden Alpine xylophone, that is often referred to as “wooden laughter;” the “Singing Saw” and more.

Children can experience the thrill of scaling one of Bok Tower Gardens’ tall live oak trees! Climb more than 40 feet above the ground or just sit in the harness for a bird’s eye view of the upper canopy and Singing Tower carillon.

Check out our schedule of events, and mark your calendar for Boktoberfest on Saturday, October 18!


Come See What’s Growing in 2014-15

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Bok Tower Gardens has released its new Programs & Events Guide for the 2014-15 season. Members, watch for it in the mail.

View the new guide online!


In celebration of a year filled with exciting new garden projects–the largest expansion in our 85-year history–this season’s theme is COME SEE WHAT’S GROWING!

Together, we are writing the next chapter of Bok Tower Gardens. Projects are underway to preserve and enrich your experience in new and engaging ways, to restore and revitalize the Gardens for future generations. Landscapes are being transformed, but Edward Bok’s vision is cared for and protected.

We invite you and your family to explore, to learn, to participate in the process. Discover a wide range of unique activities and events designed to engage the young and young at heart.


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