Inspired by the natural beauty and ecological diversity of central Florida, philanthropist Edward Bok purchased a large tract of scrub and pine land on Iron Mountain with a vision of creating a bird sanctuary and a place that would ‘touch the soul with its beauty and quiet.’ Since its inception Bok Tower Gardens (BTG) has been a place of inspiration for the people of Polk County and the State of Florida. In recent years visitorship has expanded to include those from all over the US and the world. Unlike other places of similar origin, Bok Tower Gardens has remained remarkably unchanged since Edward Bok and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. began collaborating on plans shortly after Mr. Bok purchased the property in 1922. Although much of the original garden structure remains the same, planting and tree canopy have changed, and visitors have changed. Bok’s humanitarian and environmental vision is more relevant than ever as botanical gardens strive to achieve a new level of public inspiration and education. NBW was engaged by Bok Tower Gardens organization for the planning and implementation of a new design for the gardens. The firm began by researching the Bok/Olmsted collaboration and the underlying design principles of the site. Making native plants visible to the general public - both in natural settings and domestic landscapes - and integrating stories of the interdependence and connections of various plants, animals and ecologies including ‘keystone species’ are important goals for these areas. For the historic gardens, the concept plan will focus on improved circulation including ease of movement and accessibility.
Collaborators: Mary Williams Wolf, Coyle & Caron LLC, Rico Associates, Envisors, LLC, Henkelman Construction, Southern Land Surveyors, The Natives, Inc., Archbold Biological Station, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida Urban Ecology, University of Florida Sustainable Development, General Asphalt, Cheyenne Asphalt, Lake/ Flato Architects