Bok Tower Gardens & Pinewood Estate - Orlando / Florida Guide
Florida Guide > Other Florida
Close to Lake Wales and 300ft above sea level (one of the highest points in Florida) Bok Tower Gardens is a unique oasis. The gardens were commissioned by Edward W Bok, a famous at the time literary editor, who in 1929 gave them to the public.
Reminiscent of an English stately home landscaped garden, visitors are first presented with a pleasant drive through orange groves before arriving at the dignified visitors centre and small but nice cafe, with a covered terrace for dining looking over the planted gardens and lawn. Initially visitors explore the gentle formal gardens planted with seasonal flowering plants which are designed to be a riot of colour, and along with the interesting and unique sculptures this provides an entrée to the gardens.
Beyond that the gardens are in a more robust woodland setting with rhododendron and azaleas providing colour in spring and a collection of rare and interesting local plants throughout. Pathways are both hard surfaced and unsurfaced so there is plenty of opportunity to explore hidden areas, including a hide where local wildlife can be seen going about their business.
There is a regular 45 minute guided tour which ends up at Bok Tower. This is an impressive sight rising over 200ft and gives the gardens a theme, although the casual visitors are not allowed inside. There are regular concerts of the Carillion which give the place a pleasant and unusual aura. From here there are sweeping vistas in several directions of the flat plains of Florida
Beyond this is Pinewood Estate - a unique 1930' s built Spanish style villa built as a winter retreat by one of the unaffected millionaires of the depression, Charles Austin Buck. Not actually part of the Bok Tower Estate ' El Retiro' as it was originally named, was constructed at the head of the adjacent Mountain Ash gaited community. Ground floor rooms have well-informed guides giving brief histories of the house and contents.
For an essence of The Great Gatsby era this is a must-see experience. The house is beautifully maintained with all original and unique features, many of which were pioneering for the time. As this house was built during the depression of the 1930' s the standard of craftsmanship was excellent, due to cheap labour. At the rear there are also some pleasant gardens with a long rolling lawn leading to the Mountain Ash development.
If you are looking for a relaxing day out away from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks you will not go wrong with a trip to Bok Tower and gardens.
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