Success! Bok Tower Gardens has raised $15,544,897 toward its Preserve the Legacy, Steward the Future capital campaign. The original campaign goal of $12 million announced in February of 2014 was exceeded and the scope of projects expanded thanks to individual gifts, foundation support, and grant funding as part of a public/private partnership with the State of Florida.
The projects in this campaign focus on four areas of operation deemed critical to the future health and well-being of the Gardens, including:
It's an exciting time in the history of Bok Tower Gardens as we’re making the vision for our future a reality,” said Gardens’ president David Price. “Surpassing our original goal has allowed us to expand the scope of projects toward the realization of a 20-year master plan developed in 2011. Landforms are being shaped, paths are being created, and buildings are being completed,” Price said. “We’re making big improvements without changing the spirit of the Gardens.”
“All of us have been deeply moved by, and grateful for, the tremendous support we received from the community and beyond,” said Cindy Alexander, one of three campaign co-chairs. “Along the way there were surprises and wonderful new opportunities to grow our vision and scope of projects even further.”
“We spent considerable time talking with a diversity of people in Polk County, throughout Florida and beyond to share the vision,” said Joan Thomas, director of philanthropy for the Gardens. “We are fortunate to have multi-generational families who deeply love and care about the Gardens, and who trust in the projects we are undertaking. We also made many new friends and supporters along the way, including some ‘champions’ who joined our Board over the course of the campaign,” Thomas said.
Gardens’ leadership also made sure to nurture its fund-raising efforts from within, starting with 100% Board and employee participation and extending giving opportunities to its 5,200 member households and 400+ volunteer corps.
“The campaign to fund these enhancements has been very successful with the help of so many,” Price said. “We thank all the donors who have made a gift to the campaign to help us preserve the legacy and steward the future of Bok Tower Gardens.”
Rejuvenation and Restoration of the Tower and Historic Core Garden
The 60-bell carillon Tower and historic Olmsted gardens are at the heart of Edward Bok’s legacy. To ensure this National Historic Landmark is preserved for future generations, the Tower is undergoing significant restoration to the iconic tile grilles surrounding the bell chamber. This phase of work is scheduled to be completed (and scaffolding removed) in early 2016, and as part of the expanded scope, other Tower preservation projects will begin later this summer.
Critical rejuvenation projects also are taking place within the historic core garden to preserve the original design intent of landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. These include a comprehensive editing and replacement of declining plants to feature a greater diversity and interest of Florida natives. Many of these plantings have already taken place, while others will be completed during the final phases of construction.
Increased Accessibility and Circulation
A gentle grade to a spectacular new oval walkway and special event lawn is being constructed behind the Gardens’ Visitor Center to help guests more easily find their way to Pinewood Estate, the Singing Tower, and new expansion gardens to the north.
Because increasing numbers of visitors with limited mobility utilize wheelchairs and families with young children require the use of strollers, the primary path has been re-graded and surfaced to meet ADA compliance, using materials and colors that blend with the garden setting.
“Accessibility for everyone has been a really important piece of this process, so that young and old can together enjoy the entire Gardens,” Alexander said.
The Blue Palmetto Café soon will offer expanded outdoor seating next to a colorful pollinator garden which will attract birds and butterflies. A new shuttle route through the core Garden has already been completed and offers a convenient pick-up point adjacent to the Visitor Center, enabling guests with limited mobility to enjoy more of an immersive garden experience.
Creation of Spaces that Better Tell the Gardens’ Story
The Exhibit Hall inside the Visitor Center will be updated with dynamic, engaging and inspiring exhibits to tell a more comprehensive story about Edward Bok, the Gardens, and the carillon.
Restoration and expansion of an eight-acre area north of the historic garden will provide visitors access to a diversity of plantings representing various Florida ecologies including an oak hammock, wet prairie, sandhill forest, wetland, and bog with 170-foot boardwalk. This new Wild Garden will showcase the rich diversity of Florida native plants and wildlife. The walk also takes visitors to the original 1929 garden entrance as designed by Olmsted.
Stewarding the Gardens for Future Generations
Keeping children in touch with nature is important to building their confidence, independent spirit, critical thinking, and capacity for environmental stewardship. The new Children’s Garden just north of the Visitor Center will be a place of hands-on fun, natural beauty, learning, and creative 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 Discovery Center at the entrance to the Children’s Garden will offer space for programs, small classroom learning, and staging for field trips. Opening is planned for August of 2016.
Adjacent to the Children’s Garden will be a new Kitchen Garden that connects farm to table. Edible gardens surrounding an outdoor kitchen will be a welcoming destination for educational programs and events showcasing lifestyle gardening and the culinary arts. From cooking demonstrations to receptions, this area will be a hub of horticultural and culinary activity.
Scheduled for a March 2016 opening, the Kitchen Garden also complements the Gardens’ new University of Florida /IFAS educational partnership to develop school and community gardening programs throughout the State. A new Center for Education and Conservation was built and opened on Gardens’ property in September as a result of this partnership.
To sustain and support campaign initiatives, Bok Tower Gardens continues to invite community investment into its endowment to generate the necessary ongoing operating income.
“There are still naming and recognition opportunities available through this campaign,” Thomas said. “You can make a gift in honor or memory of someone close to the Gardens, associate your name with a major feature in our new garden areas, or consider an endowed fund opportunity.”
A full list of campaign recognition opportunities may be found at www.BokLegacy.org. Campaign staff may be reached at (863) 734-1213 for more information.