Spring Bloom at Bok Tower Gardens
Just as millions of “leaf peepers” watch in awe as trees begin their magical transformation every fall, we have “peak bloom peekers.” It’s an annual rite of spring as more than 150 varieties of camellias and hundreds of azaleas along with nun’s orchids, irises and other flowering plants create an explosion of color. The exact date, however, is hard to predict.
“Cold weather delays the on-set of flowering and this winter has been unseasonably warm,” says Nick Baker, director of horticulture. “We expect azaleas to peak the third week in February and continue through March.”
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.
Mother Nature mixes up her palette as violas, snapdragons, dianthus, delphiniums, hollyhocks and other annuals escort the arrival of spring with glorious displays of color. Trees in bloom include native plums, pink and yellow tabebuia, and deciduous magnolias. “We have a special breed of Gresham hybrids that are crosses of different species of magnolias,” Nick adds. “They have exceptionally large blooms and put on a showy display of pink, white and lavender colors.” With so many citrus groves surrounding the Gardens, the scent of orange blossoms adds a sweet fragrance to the air during March.
Another spectacular exhibit features air plants that require no soil. The display around our Visitor Center features more than 30 different species of Tillandsia. Many of them have been specially treated to bloom all at once and are available for purchase in our gift shop. With more than 550 species of Tillandsia, the genus is the largest and most diverse of the entire bromeliad family, accounting for approximately 550 of the over 2,500 species of bromeliads. Tillandsia are native to warmer climates of the Americas.
Free! Spring Garden Tours
Join one of our volunteer Garden Guides for an insider’s look at the Gardens! These are great opportunities to ask questions or learn the names of our current blooming plants. Offered at noon and 2 p.m., these free 45 minute tours take you from the Visitor Center fountain through the Gardens before ending at the carillon viewing area in time for the 1 and 3 p.m. carillon concerts. Tours are subject to availability.
Tower Lawn Viewing Area
We opened a new section of the original Olmsted-designed Gardens on the north side of the Singing Tower moat that will give you a better perspective of the Great Brass Door.
Weighing 1,000 pounds with 30 brass repousse panels, the door was designed by Polish immigrant Samuel Yellin who specialized in Renaissance-style iron sculpture and design. The door depicts the Biblical story of creation, the Book of Genesis, starting with the creation of light and ending with Adam and Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden.
Garden Adventure Guide
Our free guide is designed to be shared with the whole family. Filled with fun facts and activities, everyone in your family can enjoy learning about the cultural and natural history of the Gardens. Use the map and clues to hunt for the hidden tile posts on your way to the Singing Tower.
The Garden Adventure Guide and our Family Discovery Backpacks are on loan free of charge at the Visitor Center.