"All beaut-iful the march of days
as seasons come and go;
The hand that shaped the rose
hath wrought the crystal of the snow;
Hath sent the hoary frost of heaven,
the flowing waters sealed,
And laid a silent loveliness
on hill and wood and field."
Frances W. Wile (1878-1939)
from "All Beautiful the March of Days"
Well, last Thursday I said that spring had finally arrived, the snow was melting and the tulips pushing through the damp soil. But I think I was a little premature. Because over the past two days, winter has not wanted to lose its grip on us. Constant snow and the gardens are once again covered, not truly ready to accept spring's warmth, they have pulled the covers back over their heads. Having packed away the winter boots, I had to pull them out once again to wander through the 6 inches of snow.
Outside my window the birds huddle in the trees to keep warm against the howling winds, shaping the snow into architectural drifts. Nature does have a way of keeping us in suspense. So to bring some warmth into the spirit, I turned to my photos of my recent trip to Florida's Polk County. My new friends, Gorgia Turner and Katy Martin of the Polk County Visitors Bureau warmly showed us the beauty that abounds in central Florida. For me one the the highlights was our visit to Historic Bok Sanctuary, a stunning estate complete with bell tower and natural parklike gardens. For me one of the most interesting items was the beautiful neo-Gothic and art deco Singing carillon bell tower pictured above. As a member of a handbell choir, I was thrilled when we were allowed special consideration to see the inside of the tower. Travelling up in a very tiny elevator, we reached the level of the 60 carillon bells and the view out over the surrounding orange groves was magnificent, as was our guides description of how the carillon bells were played. Handbells are a simpler version of the ancient tradition of changing ringing in church steeples, that then was replaced by carillon bells. A camera in the bell tower, allows visitors to the gardens to watch the carillonneur play during concert times.
Designated as a National Historic Landmark, Bok Tower Gardens provides a continuous array of musical and artistic events throughout the year. Located on Iron Mountain, the highest point on the Florida penninsula the Tower stands as a sentinel. On the ground, visitors can enjoy strolling through the 128 acres of gardens designed by the renowned Frederick Law Olmstead Jr. The gardens were a gift to the Americvan people by the Dutch immigrant and humanitarian Edward W. Bok in the 1920's. Mr. Bok was a world peace advocate, Pulitizer-Prizewinning author and editor of Ladies Home Journal. The gardens bear his grandmother's motto "Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it." Mr. Bok did just that in offering this natural site to the world. Next time you are in Florida take time to visit one of America's finest historic gardens, I guarantee you won't be disappointed.
For more information on events, concerts, art exhibits and seasonal bloom times check out their website at http://www.boktowergardens.org/.