We’re back home in snowy, cold, shades of white Michigan this evening. But I have so much more to show you from sunny, warm, colorful Florida, so let’s pretend we’re still there, shall we?
I last left you with a tease about Bok Gardens, a wonderful place full of magical gardens, a winter mansion and an amazing bell tower. I don’t want to leave you hanging, so here we go!
Bok Gardens is a 7 acre slice of heaven, including several types of gardens designed by Olmstead brothers landscaping company (the same that designed the gardens at Biltmore in North Carolina, and Central Park in New York City), a new children’s play and educational area, what seems like acres of azaleas, a Florida desert trail, and towering live oaks covered in lichen and ferns.
The home, built in the center of all of this beauty, was the winter home of industrialist Charles Buck (not Bok, I know, it’s confusing) from 1932 to 1945. After that it was purchased by a couple of families before being acquired by Bok Gardens in 1970.
The house, with over 12,000 square feet, feels much more intimate than many of the seasonal homes of the wealthy back in those days.
The rooms were smaller, and many had lower ceilings.
There wasn’t gold gilding, unlike many homes of this vintage, but there were plenty of wonderful details.
Tilework acted as wainscoting throughout the first floor, and ran up the stairs to the less public rooms.
The floors on the main level were covered in handmade red tiles, each room with it’s own pattern.
The docents told us the gardens were put in first, and then the house was built so that each area had a different garden view. Pretty spectacular.
And then there’s the bell tower, with it’s huge carillon and sixty tons of bells which are played regularly. It is absolutely stunning.
There were two concerts the day we were there, one we heard as we wandered the garden, and another that we purposely sat and listened to.
Bok Tower Gardens is located between Tampa and Orlando, and I think time spent there is well worth the admission for you and your family. Kids can play in the kid garden and run on the lawns up by the tower.
Parents can let the beauty wash over them…and I guarantee everyone will smile.
And after all that, we made it over to the Gulf for the sunset.
I’ll post more about the beaches in another post. We did spend a bit of time walking those white sands. After all…it’s Flordia.