On many mornings in 1930, surrounded by the chirping of birds, Pulitzer Prize-winning Dutch author Edward Bok could be found in his studio at the base of a 205-foot art-deco, neo-Gothic tower. Today, visitors to Bok Tower Gardens, a National Historic Landmark, can take in the sights and wander the more than 50 acres of meandering gardens sculpted by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.
Visitors roam through shaded clearings and child-friendly gardens filled with vine-covered arbors and butterfly- and bird-watching areas, such as the Window By The Pond observatory. Paths wind past cold-resistant and semi-tropical ferns, palms, and pines, and vibrant explosions of azaleas, camellias, and magnolias that caretakers lovingly re-paint each morning. Among the trees stands Pinewood Estate, a Mediterranean-style mansion that welcomes seasonal tour groups into its rooms. In the gift shop, visitors peruse mementos such as historical books and decorative, nature-themed jewelry. The gardens sprawl through the Pine Ridge Nature Preserve, where a 3/4-mile path lets visitors glimpse rare plants and endangered animals such as the indigo snake and gopher tortoise. Gardens staff protect these grounds from fire damage, preserve plantings by collecting seeds, and reintroduce native species by organizing singles’ mixers.