Saturday, Oct. 16 was Boktoberfest at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales. The Gardens opened at 8 a.m. and featured free admission, live music, German food, activities, lectures and a plant sale.
Bok Tower Gardens is a 250- acre National Historic Landmark located on Iron Mountain, one of the highest points in Florida. The park is named for Edward W. Bok and the 205- foot carillon Singing Tower. The Gardens were commissioned by Bok in 1921 and landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.
In addition to the Gardens, the property also includes Pine Ridge Trail and Pinewood Estate. Pine Ridge Trail loops the property and features pine trees, native plants in the area’s natural sandy soil, and views of the surrounding orange groves and three geocaching locations. Pinewood Estate is a 20-room mansion and the 1930s Mediterranean Revival style home of industrialist C. Austin Buck. Pinewood Estate can be toured most days for an additional admission price.
During Boktoberfest, children could climb trees, paint pumpkins and have their faces painted. Adults were offered a selection of beers and wines, realtraditional Oktoberfest sausage, and educational lectures given by the plant vendors. The vendors sold a wide variety of items, including native plants, bonsai, olive trees and orchids. One of the more unusual plants was the Tillandsia, more commonly called the air plant, which is not planted in soil but can be attached to any medium and watered a few times a week. Although there are many types, most grow in bundles of spiky leaves gaining beautiful colors when the plant flowers. The best features of Boktoberfest, however, are the gardens themselves, which can be enjoyed at any time of the year.
Popular elements of the Gardens are the giant Victoria Water Lilies in the Reflection Pool near the Tower. The five-foot lily pads have long spikes on their undersides and are strong enough to support a child. Also at home in the Reflecting Pool are two swans, and food is available for purchase for visitors to feed them. Down the path from the Reflecting Pool is the “Window by the Pond,” a little building with a giant window in one wall and seats from which visitors can watch a pond and the creatures that live in and around it.
On Saturday, visitors had a laugh when a squirrel jumped from the edge of the pond to a nearby bird feeder and nearly onto a bird. Both were startled, the bird flew away, and the squirrel leaped back to shore, almost nose-diving into the pond. Seconds later he bounced right back to the birdfeeder before observers could blink.
For more information about this you can check out the Bok Tower Gardens online at www.boktowergardens.org.