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Bok Tower

Bok Tower Gardens is a beautiful garden in Lake Wales, Florida, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. The gardens surround the historic Bok Tower, whose carillon bells ring out through the gardens on a daily basis. I love to visit Bok Tower for flower photography, as well as during bird migration. It's a good place for small birds like Eastern Towhees, Tufted Titmice, and Brown Thrashers. It's also a reliable location in Central Florida for Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds.

Photography advice: I usually take my long lens for bird photography, and a second body with a macro lens for flower photos.

Hours: 8am - 6pm

Visit the Bok Tower Gardens website.

Playing Peek-a-Boo and Hide-and-Seek at Bok Tower

Playing Peek-a-Boo and Hide-and-Seek at Bok Tower - November 2014

Bok Tower birding was great - we found Red-headed Woodpeckers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and a Painted BuntingRead More

Red-Headed Woodpeckers at Bok Tower

Red-Headed Woodpeckers at Bok Tower - October 2014

Fun morning photographing the Red-headed Woodpeckers at Bok Tower, along with the visiting Rufous Hummingbird! The Blue Jays showed off tooRead More

Bok Tower in Bloom

Bok Tower in Bloom - September 2013

A few weeks ago I spent a Saturday morning at Bok Tower, a wonderful garden in Lake Wales, Florida.  It was architected by Frederick Law Olmstead and  dedicated by President Coolidge in 1929.  The tower itself is fun to photograph, but what attracted me was the possibility of migrant warblers.  I seem to find a lot of them on good days.  There was also a Rufous Hummingbird that visited there …Read More

Did I Finally Make a Pleasing Blur?

Did I Finally Make a Pleasing Blur? - December 2012

Some really good photographers obsess over making "pleasing blurs," and I must admit, when I look at their images, I see glimpses of my own bad shots that I deleted because the bird wouldn't sit still! But sometimes when I'm out shooting and the action isn't all that exciting, I'll take my second body and experiment. Usually I delete the results. But with this one I think I might be …Read More

Foggy Morning

Foggy Morning - November 2012

My alarm clock played tricks on me this morning.  Not only did it put the clock back an hour for Standard Time, but it also put my wake-up time back an additional hour…so I woke up really early.  Not nice.  Then I saw that the weather forecast was for mostly cloudy and  100% humidity at Circle B till around 9 or 10, which translates to very dense fog.  Never mind…sleep …Read More

For My Mom

For My Mom - October 2012

Happy B-Day to my mom! Here are the hummer pictures I promised you from Bok. As you can see, our juvie Rufous is turning into a little boy. Look at the red under his throat! He continues to guard the firebushes from the other hummingbirds. I took a little video of him on one of his favorite perches. It's amazing how active these little guys are, even when they are …Read More

Gray Cat Meets Gray Catbird

Gray Cat Meets Gray Catbird - October 2012

I saw my first-of-fall Gray Catbird on Sunday at Bok Tower. Then we had one in our backyard tonight, along with a male Painted Bunting. Squirt was very happy to finally meet his namesake gray catbird. Now Whiskey wants to know when he'll get to see a Black-and-White Warbler!

Interesting Branch-Mates

Interesting Branch-Mates - September 2012

Yesterday I wrote about seeing my first Rufous Hummingbird and how the bird was very territorial. Well, she had competition from this mockingbird. Mockingbirds are the most territorial birds in my backyard, especially during nesting season. Yesterday this mocker had laid claim to the same firebush as the hummingbird. They ended up defending the same bush - while seated on the same branch! I wish I had gotten a picture …Read More

My First Rufous Hummingbird

My First Rufous Hummingbird - September 2012

This morning I headed to Bok Tower to search for hummingbirds and migrants. The gardens staff have worked hard to attract hummingbirds to the area, and they have certainly succeeded. I've never seen so many hummers there before. Clumps of hummingbird friendly plants are tucked all throughout the gardens, especially red salvias and firebush. I knew of a particularly large clump of firebush near the Window by the Pond, so …Read More

Anniversary at Bok Tower Gardens

Anniversary at Bok Tower Gardens - June 2011

It's hard to believe that Rich and I have been married for seven years.  We were married at Bok Tower Gardens, so we decided to go back there today in honor of our anniversary.  Rich didn't mind that I brought The Beast along.  We saw lots of great baby birds. Since it's our anniversary, I'll be nice and post a turtle picture for Rich.  (He does remind me regularly that …Read More

Sunset and Symphony Concert at Bok Tower Gardens

Sunset and Symphony Concert at Bok Tower Gardens - November 2010

Rich and I went to the Sunset and Symphony concert at Bok Tower Gardens tonight. The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra played a bunch of fun music, including "Harry's Wondrous World" from Harry Potter, "The Sound of Music", and a medley from "Fiddler on the Roof." It was really cold out (for Florida) and we were happy that we'd bundled up and taken a blanket. The Gardens was really well prepared for …Read More

Peaceful Morning at Bok Tower

Peaceful Morning at Bok Tower - October 2010

Rich and I decided to go birding at Bok Tower this morning. It's been a while since we've gone there, and Rich says it's starting to be cool enough to go birding with me again. :) There were tons of birds! We couldn't turn around without turning into a Gray Catbird. "Maaaw! Maaa! Go home and feed your gray cat!" they kept calling to us. Jays, Brown Thrashers, and Eastern …Read More

Songbirds at Bok Tower Gardens

Songbirds at Bok Tower Gardens - May 2010

A rose-breasted grosbeak was recently seen at Bok Tower Gardens, so this morning Rich and I went to bird-watch at Bok.  We didn't see a grosbeak, but we did see some fun songbirds. The first bird we saw this morning was a male Eastern Towhee.  He was on the ground, rooting through the grass, digging for worms.   His call really does sound like the "Drink your tea!" mnemonic on our …Read More

Springtime at Bok Tower

Springtime at Bok Tower - April 2010

Last year Rich and I went to Bok Tower a few weeks after the azaleas bloomed, and I was mad to have missed the blooms.  So this year we went while the azaleas were in bloom.  They were pretty, but not as dramatic as what we expect to see at Callaway Gardens in a few weeks. The paths were so pretty lined with flowering bushes. Dyeyo, Rich, and I had …Read More

Bird-watching at Bok Tower

Bird-watching at Bok Tower - September 2009

Rich and I went to Bok Tower this morning to do some bird-watching. The swans were posing in the pond around the tower, and I found that my new warming filter made for some wonderful pictures. I played with my filters as I took pictures of the tower.  I found that I was able to get a better exposure using split neutral density filters. This tufted titmouse was hanging out …Read More

Springtime at Bok Tower Gardens

Springtime at Bok Tower Gardens - March 2009

This morning we went to Bok Tower. Supposedly the hummingbirds are starting to migrate back, but we didn't see any. The swans sure posed for us though!

A winter ramble around Bok Tower Gardens

A winter ramble around Bok Tower Gardens - January 2009

Bok Tower is one of my favorite places to go. The gardens are beautiful, the wildlife is fun to watch, and the trip is a nice escape from the real world. Today we saw hummingbirds! They are wintering at Bok Tower! The swans were posing, and I had fun playing with my new diffuser filter. I also had fun playing with my new split neutral density filters. I really liked …Read More

Hummers wintering at Bok Tower

Hummers wintering at Bok Tower - January 2009

Rich and I went to Bok Tower this morning. The swans swam right up to us and let me take some cool pictures, but we didn't really see too many other birds. We heard some exciting sounds though - there are definitely some hummingbirds wintering at Bok Tower, even if we didn't see them!

Bok Tower hummingbirds photographed in better light

Bok Tower hummingbirds photographed in better light - October 2008

After seeing hummingbirds at Bok Tower last week, but not getting any really good pictures because of the cloudy day, we resolved to go back today when it was sunny and try again. The hummingbirds that we're seeing at Bok are all males, which complements my set of females from Callaway Gardens nicely. Rich patiently waited with my by a clump of red flowers until this guy appeared. On one …Read More

Hummingbirds at Bok Tower!

Hummingbirds at Bok Tower! - October 2008

Today was a great day for migrating birds at Bok Tower. We were walking around by Exedra when we heard the unmistakable sound of hummingbirds. We'd not seen hummers in Florida, so we were very excited. We looked around and found several hummers nectaring on salvia and hummingbird bush. Cool! Now we don't have to drive all the way to Callaway Gardens to see hummers!! What a difference a little …Read More

Hangin’ out with Dyeyo at Bok Tower Gardens

Hangin’ out with Dyeyo at Bok Tower Gardens - August 2008

Dyeyo met me at Bok Tower this morning for some bird-watching. We had a great time roaming around in the beautiful gardens. I lent him my Canon Digital Rebel while I used my awesome new Canon 40D. He took some good pictures, too! This cardinal met us in the pine trees right behind the visitor center. She didn't mind when I got closer and closer to photograph her. This juvenile …Read More

Photography with Friends at Bok Tower Gardens

Photography with Friends at Bok Tower Gardens - May 2008

Poor Rich! He was outnumbered by software people this morning! Juan and Pavel joined us for a photography morning at Bok Tower. It was a lot of fun.