Bountiful Spirit Garden

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UF/IFAS Extension and Bok Tower Gardens have teamed up to help communities, schools and families discover the amazing benefits of gardening. Environmental responsibility and leading healthier lives are at the heart of our Garden programs. The partnership provides educational and technical assistance to those interested in making a difference within their community. The mission of this partnership is to enhance communities through experiential education that promotes healthy living, enriches culture and conserves natural resources, and that is exactly what we are doing here in the Lake Wales community.

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A Plant Fit For A Tiara

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The American Beautyberry
Blooming a vibrant purple in the fall, the American Beautyberry is a common species native to the southeast and throughout Florida. Another common name for this edible plant is French Mulberry. It is a beneficial shrub for wildlife, is deciduous, will grow well in shade or sun, and may grow to heights of eight to ten feet. It is easily recognized when it fruits in the fall by its tight clusters of violet to purple berries found near the leaves.

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Happy Poké-hunting Guide

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Pokemon GO at Bok Tower Gardens

We’re so excited to introduce Bok Tower Gardens to a new generation of enthusiasts. Visitors have always said that everyone comes to the Gardens for a different reason. Some come for peacefulness and tranquility, others come for musical events, and with new garden spaces opening very soon we are ready to attract an even wider audience than ever before.

Welcome, Poké-hunters

Bok Tower Gardens was founded as a bird sanctuary, a haven for wildlife to live without the fear of being hunted. And that mission is not changing anytime soon. However, with the launch of Pokémon GO we are encouraging our guests to fill their Pokédex with plenty of digital bounty. Armed with only your smartphone, do your best to catch every last one of the little virtual Pokémon creatures that are highly attracted to places of arts and culture across the nation. Other gardens and museums are wonderful places to test your skills, so we’ve put together a short guide to help you on your way to an enjoyable safari through the wild of Bok Tower Gardens.

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A Guide to Geocaching

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So you’ve never geocached before… not a problem Bok Tower Gardens staff have prepared this go-to guide to get you going on your first adventure. Geocaching is a real world, outdoor treasure hunting game. Players try to locate hidden containers (called geocaches) using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online. Follow this guide to get started.

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Turning Stone Into Water

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The River of Stone tradition continues. Constructed in the mid 1990’s, the pathway in front of the Visitor’s Center has become one of the most unique elements at Bok Tower Gardens. With over 100,000 hand-selected pebbles, Kevin’s vision for a spectacular mosaic pathway welcomes visitors at the entrance to the new Children’s Garden, which opens in the late summer of 2016.

Atlanta native, Kevin Carman is a self-taught, multi-medium artist who has been creating and exhibiting nationally since 1994, and his compelling works have received many honors. Carman collects the majority of materials he uses to produce on-site installations, mosaics and various private commissions.

Paul O’Neill of Chiggerbritches Films has created several short documentary films about Bok Tower Gardens, most notably a feature on Margaret Pan a former Singing Tower Carillon Fellow. See the full Pebble Mosaic Artist short documentary below.

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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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The Art of Carillon

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quote-25px   Are you the midnight musician? How wonderful!   endquote-25px

Thanks to a gift from Paul and Carol Collins, we have been privileged to have two Collins Carillon Fellowships at Bok Tower Gardens this year. These advanced students stay at Pinewood Estate and gain experience playing, composing, arranging and training under our Carillonneur Geert D’hollander. They also perform our live carillon concerts Mondays through Wednesdays in season. As an added perk, they get to enjoy lots of valuable after-hours rehearsal time in the Tower – a rare treat for carillonneurs whose instruments are located where playing hours are restricted.

Margaret Pan Astronomer-Carillonneur-HD.mp4.00_08_58_11.Still002“This must be the only carillon in the world where, if you play at 11 pm, you will later hear, ‘Are you the midnight musician? How wonderful!’ instead of ‘Grrr…please stop, we’re trying to sleep!'” muses Margaret Pan, our Collins Carillon Fellow from October to January.

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Veggies, Fresh From Your Smartphone!

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Get it on Google Play

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!

Registration Now Open for Discovery Days Summer Camp

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Discovery Days children

July 11 to July 15, 2016, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
July 18 to July 22, 2016, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
July 25 to July 29, 2016, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
August 1 to August 5, 2016, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm

$110 per session ($100 for members)

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

Discovery Days Summer Camp for Kids is a series of stimulating day camps for children ages 6-8 and 9-12 filled with discovery, exploration and imagination to keep young minds actively engaged and learning through the summer months. Informal, week-long sessions for each age group feature activities to help children discover the world of Bok Tower Gardens through art, science, cooking, gardening, and sensory explorations.

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