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.”
Signs of new wildlife continue to delight this spring, as kestrels and screech owls have inhabited the new nesting boxes located on the Knoll and in the Wild Garden behind Windows on the Pond.
It’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.
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!
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.
One of the most frequent requests we get from visitors is help in finding photos or documentation regarding their ancestors who worked on the Singing Tower. We thought we’d share this group photo of the construction crew that was taken in 1928.
Take a moment to mouse over this image to see if you can help us identify an ancestor who you think is pictured in the photo. If you think you can positively identify an individual please make a comment below using their reference number in the photo.
If you have any more photos of your family members working on the Tower we’d love to see them! Email our librarians at email@example.com with additional photographs.
UPDATE (July 6, 2015):
#4 – Milton Bennett Medary Jr. (Singing Tower architect)
#5 – Horace H. Burrell (Singing Tower builder)
#26 – Fred Pfeiffer
#32 – John Holloway
#47 – Ernesto Lattanzi (Italian marble sculptor)