LAKE WALES, Fla. – After months of construction and the successful conclusion of the Preserve the Legacy, Steward the Future capital campaign, Bok Tower Gardens comes into full bloom with the opening of several highly anticipated garden areas. The grand opening celebration day for the Pollinator Garden, Hammock Hollow Children’s Garden, Wild Garden, Outdoor Kitchen, and Edible Garden will be Saturday, September 10. The Gardens will open at 8 a.m. and general admission will be free for this historic event.
The celebration will begin at 10 a.m. with a special ribbon cutting dedication and remarks from Gardens’ president David Price, Board of Directors Chair Cindy Alexander, Board of Directors Vice Chair Dr. Tomas Bok, and Dr. Nick Place, Dean and Director of University of Florida/IFAS Extension. Keeping with the theme of celebrating the future, children will be invited to commemorate the ribbon cutting moment with a native pollinator release.
The day will also feature culinary demonstrations in the Outdoor Kitchen with special guest Tyler Zager, a Florida native and recent winner of the Food Network’s Kids BBQ Championship along with a full schedule of special activities, music and demonstrations.
Schedule of Events for Grand Opening Celebration
“It has been a long journey since construction began in October 2014, and we are so excited to share these new Gardens with our visitors,” said Gardens’ president David Price. “This grand opening celebration salutes the work of our board, donors, members and staff who recognized this vision would lead to big improvements without changing the spirit of the Gardens.”
These new Garden areas provide nearly one mile of pathway connecting to the historic Olmsted gardens and offer a world of discovery and biodiversity. Native plantings, picturesque vistas and distinctive ecosystems are spotlighted by the expansion and provide visitors with a new way to experience the Gardens. Descriptions of the garden areas have been provided below.
Hammock Hollow Children’s Garden and Alexander Discovery Classroom
Featuring almost three acres of nature play, this garden will teach conservation and the vital connection between animals, plants, and people. There will be beautiful art, cooling water features, vibrant plantings, a boardwalk, performance stage, and music area. Children will have things to climb on, under and through, as well as places to build, dig and create. The Alexander Discovery Center located at the entrance to the Children’s Garden will offer a contemporary meeting and gathering space for programs, small classroom learning, and staging for field trips.
Visitors will discover four diverse native Florida ecologies as they walk through eight acres of native plantings including a pine savanna, oak hammock, wetland prairie and bog. Over 175 different native plant species were used to re-create these habitats mirroring the biodiversity and beauty of Florida’s Pine Ridge. The Wild Garden also features a spectacular boardwalk that overlooks the Wildlife Pond.
Outdoor Kitchen and Edible Garden
The Outdoor Kitchen features 6,400 square feet of culinary delight punctuated with a wood fired pizza oven, top-of-the-line outdoor appliances and much more. Festive café string lights, ceiling fans and vine trellises make the kitchen functional, beautiful and intimate despite its large size. A center island with granite countertop provides more than 15 feet of space for chef demonstrations. The Edible Garden includes fruit orchard, grape arbors, and raised beds for herbs and vegetables. This area will be a hub of horticultural and culinary activity showcasing lifestyle gardening and the culinary arts. The Edible Garden also complements the Gardens’ new UF/IFAS educational partnership.
This colorful 22,800 square foot garden features native and non-native perennials along a meandering path. The garden provides a botanical wonderland for birds, butterflies, bees and other nectar- and pollen-loving insects known as pollinators.