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A Colorful Controversy

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Wildly revered for their blooming majesty and striking emerald leaves, the azaleas of Bok Tower Gardens have been a favorite since their initial planting by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. However many visitors may not know of the controversy surrounding the choice of color. During the Gardens’ early planning stages, Edward Bok wrote, “if a man wishes to see me roaring mad, he wants to plant some magenta flowers in any garden of mine.”

Ever the visionary, Olmsted coolly replied, “regarding the color of magenta that you do not wish to have on the place we would say we have tried to avoid it. There is, of course some remote possibility that some magenta flowering azaleas have crept in… Occasionally, people jump at the conclusion in this connection and so really deprive themselves of a good thing by ordering the removal of the plants.”

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The Burning Paradox

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Prescribed burns have been an agricultural tool since the dawn of human civilization. In fact, agricultural scientists, Sydney Johnson and Philip Hale provide “controlled burning has deep historical roots in the South, where the practice was quickly adopted from the Indians by early European settlers. It became used widely, primarily to improve forage conditions for free-ranging cattle and to improve visibility and access.”

Often referred as the “burn paradox”, the practice of a controlled burn is a modern management technique for the protection of endangered habitats, plants and animals. It can appear counterintuitive to use fire as a means of encouraging new growth; however, scientists have long understood the benefits and outcomes of ancient burn strategies.

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Veggies, Fresh From Your Smartphone!

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Do you want to know if it’s the right time of year to plant a vegetable? Want to buy Florida produce but you don’t know whether it’s in season? UF/IFAS has a new app to guide you!
It’s called the Florida Fresh veggie app, and you can now download it for free on any mobile device. The idea to create this new mobile friendly app emanated from one of the most popular Extension documents ever written: “The Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide.”
It’s pretty simple: enter your zip code, and the app tells you what vegetables to plant at that time of year. But the app’s uses go way beyond timely planting of vegetables. You can also discover the seasonal availability of Florida-grown produce. And there’s more. If you touch any of the photos, the app provides detailed information about each fruit and vegetable, including planting tips, best varieties for Florida and nutritional value. Additionally, the app gives you links to Extension documents about the plants, best practices for successful gardening and much more.

Bok Tower Gardens and UF/IFAS Extension are in a long term partnership to promote school and community gardening, native-plant and wildlife gardening, and garden classes through existing IFAS programs such as Florida Friendly Landscaping. Our goal is to create opportunities together to help your gardens and healthy lifestyle thrive!

Bring on the Blooms!

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Grab your cameras! Peak bloom season is just around the corner 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.

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Volunteer Job Fair Jan. 15

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There is something for everyone at Bok Tower Gardens, and once you think you’ve “seen it all” there is even more going on behind-the-scenes! Consider volunteering with us and learn how you can put your incredible talents to use at one of America’s finest gardens – complete with benefits, too!

On Friday, January 15 at 2pm, come hear from key people throughout the Gardens who are making the world a bit better and more beautiful each day. Representatives from various departments across the garden campus will take you on a tour of the volunteering opportunities we offer, answer questions, and acquaint you with your beautiful surroundings.

With so many new garden spaces opening through mid-2016, Bok Tower Gardens appreciates you more than ever. Submit the form below with the check box to “RSVP to the next Volunteer Job Fair” and our volunteer manager Rachel Henderson will be in touch. Seating is limited, so reservations are encouraged.

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Video: Bok Tower Gardens Bromeliad Christmas Tree

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A 15-foot-tall Christmas tree was created with nearly 350 bromeliads can be seen outside the Holiday Home Tour at Pinewood Estate during the Christmas at Bok Tower Gardens celebration, now through January 3rd.

Click on the video below to hear Bok Tower gardener John Arnett talk about this unique tree. [SOURCE: WUSF Public Media]

WUSF Public Media is a sponsor of Christmas at Bok Tower Gardens.

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.

New Partnership With University of Florida/IFAS Underway

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A new partnership is emerging between the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and historic Bok Tower Gardens.

The partnership between the state’s preeminent land-grant university and this historic garden will provide onsite demonstration gardens, education programs and conservation research, as well as outreach programs to help people better see, appreciate, and connect with plants. A new school and community gardens program has already begun operations to teach food gardening to students and residents.

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Volunteer at the Gardens! Learn more at Job Fair Jan. 16

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Ready to learn new skills, meet new people, and have fun? Join the staff of Bok Tower Gardens at its annual Volunteer Job Fair on Friday, January 16 at 2 p.m.

Information will be available from a variety of Gardens’ departments that offer volunteer opportunities. Once a volunteer donates 50 hours of service or more, they earn a tour of the Singing Tower, membership to the Gardens, and numerous other benefits.

“This is a great opportunity for individuals of all ages to learn new things, make wonderful friends, and have a rewarding experience all while having fun,” explains Visitor Services Manager Rachel Henderson.

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New Bromeliad Christmas Tree at Bok Tower Gardens

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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!

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