The man that made the Gardens

When visiting Bok Tower Gardens it is very apparent whom the tower is dedicated to, and there are few men more deserving than Edward Bok to have their name on the entrance of this landmark. However, there is another man who has left his name and his mark on this place in the most wonderful of ways. His name is Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. the man in charge of designing the Olmsted Gardens.

Olmsted Jr. shared his name with one of the greatest landscape architects of all time. His father Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. was considered by many to be the father of American landscape architecture. He was involved in the designs of: The Mall in Washington D.C., Central Park in New York, and the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. With these accomplishments Olmsted Jr. Had high expectations thrust upon him.

In 1923, Olmsted Jr. embarked on his mission to transform Bok Tower Gardens from a sand hill into one of the nation’s most beautiful garden sanctuaries. For the next five years, Olmsted Jr. and his team diligently planted a mix of native and exotic plants that would thrive in the humid climate and lend a tropical feel to the native oak hammock.

From a practical perspective, Olmsted also carefully selected plants that would provide a hearty supply of food and shelter for migrating birds and other wildlife in the Gardens. The pathways leading up to the Singing Tower wind through the Olmsted historic landscape gardens. When visitors reach the top, a majestic view of the entire Tower is revealed in the Reflection Pool, showcasing one of Florida’s most photographed sites.

Edward Bok challenged Olmsted with the task of creating a garden that could match the beauty that would be Bok Tower. Olmsted’s answer to Bok’s challenge was met with one of the greatest wonders Florida has to offer.