GR8 Summer Getaway: Bok Tower Gardens provides education and fun

Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales.
Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales.

LAKE WALES, Fla. (WFLA) – In the small Polk County town of Lake Wales sits a majestic tower and sprawling gardens. Bok Tower Gardens makes the list as a Gr8 Summer Getaway. It’s a history buff’s dream and a fantasy for anyone with a green thumb. Edward Bok, an immigrant from the Netherlands, and publisher, envisioned Bok Tower Gardens in 1929 as a gift to the community. He lived by what his grandmother told him, “make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it.” At 298 feet above sea level, a sprawling garden surrounds the Singing Tower Carillon.

Little girls Victoria and Vita don’t worry so much about the history and focus more on the pond. “Feeding fish is definitely their top activity here,” mom, Alex Farewell, said. “It’s peaceful and the kids can just run around and be in nature and there aren’t any distractions.”

Brian Ososky, the Director of Marketing and Public Relations, agrees that while kids are fascinated by feeding the fish the adults enjoy the garden. “It’s not a formal garden. It’s a naturalistic setting,” Ososky said. “It’s just a nice place to explore. A carillon is the largest instrument in the world with 60 bells.” The bells play every half hour and there are concerts at 1  and 3 p.m. The music is live during the cooler months, a carillonneur plays. Over the summer the song is played from a recording.

Kids enjoyed behind the scenes at Bok this summer with a camp called, “Discovery Days.” When News Channel 8 visited the grounds, it was all about insects. Kids also learned about fairies and gnomes, creatures of Bok, and the history surrounding the magical place. “This place is just so amazing,” Tricia Martin, the Director of Education, said. “There are so many different resources. It’s not just a beautiful, lush maintained garden. We’re on Lake Wales Ridge and we have habitat that’s found here and unique to this region.”

Aside from the camps, Bok is really focusing on kids. Right now crews are working on a kids garden that should be completed by the end of next summer. “The idea behind the Children’s Garden is to remain relevant and sustainable for our next generation,” Ososky said.  “Kids will learn about nature through play. They will get to dig in the sand and get wet with water jets to cool off.”

This Gr8 Getaway costs $12 for adults and $3 for kids.

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