Landis Membership Away from Home

By Sue Tricario

A mem­ber­ship at the Lan­dis Arbore­tum is your pass­port to over 360 pub­lic gar­dens and arbore­ta in North Amer­i­ca. Lan­dis’ par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Amer­i­can Hor­ti­cul­tur­al Society’s (AHS) Rec­i­p­ro­cal Gar­den Net­work enti­tles you to free or reduced admis­sion and dis­counts at these gardens.

This year, while spend­ing the win­ter in Flori­da, I planned a trip to Bok Tow­er Gar­dens, an easy hour’s dri­ve south of my loca­tion. With my Lan­dis Arbore­tum mem­ber­ship, I was able to get in free, as the $20 entrance fee was waived.

These gar­dens were made pos­si­ble through the efforts of Edward W. Bok, an immi­grant from Den­mark. In 1919, Mr. Bok retired from a suc­cess­ful career in pub­lish­ing to Lake Wales, FL, and in 1922, he pur­chased 14 acres atop Iron Moun­tain. It became his mis­sion to turn an arid sand­hill into a spot of beau­ty sec­ond to none in the coun­try.” And Bok did just that. Over five years, he man­aged to cre­ate a sanc­tu­ary with food and shel­ter for migrat­ing birds and oth­er wildlife. 

Bok Tower
Bok Tow­er

As I walked up to the Bok Tow­er and Gar­dens, I saw an ele­gant 205-foot tow­er sur­round­ed by lush foliage. Far­ther up the path is the Vis­i­tors Cen­ter with a the­ater, muse­um, and a dis­play of the garden’s cur­rent blooms.

Southern Camelia
South­ern Camellia

After enjoy­ing the cen­ter, I con­tin­ued through the gar­dens to the Bok Singing Tow­er to hear the bells. Along the way, I passed through the Pol­li­na­tor Gar­den and the Wild Gar­den. Vari­eties of aza­lea, camelia, dianthus, bromeli­ad and par­rot flower were just a few of the species on dis­play. The Tow­er is the high­light of the Gar­dens. It con­tains 60 bells with a musi­cal range of 5 octaves. 

The neigh­bor­ing estate, El Retiro, which means The Retreat”, was the win­ter home of Charles Austin Buck from 1932 until his death in 1945. The home and land were acquired by Bok Gar­dens in 1970. Mr. Buck was Pres­i­dent of Beth­le­hem Steel, and the opu­lent fur­nish­ings of the house reflect his wealth. Like the Tow­er and Gar­dens, it is on the Nation­al Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places. A sep­a­rate tick­et is required to tour the home.

The gar­dens are well worth the trip, fea­tur­ing many plant­i­ngs that flour­ish in a sub­trop­i­cal cli­mate in which tem­per­a­tures range from the warm to the very hot. In both flo­ra and ter­rain, it is a world very dif­fer­ent from Lan­dis’ lush green fields and tem­per­ate plant­i­ngs of trees and shrubs. Both gar­dens pro­vide the beau­ty and tran­quil­i­ty which, in today’s stress­ful world, nour­ish the spirit.

For more infor­ma­tion on using your Lan­dis mem­ber­ship at oth­er pub­lic gar­dens and arbore­ta, vis­it the Amer­i­can Hor­ti­cul­tur­al Soci­ety (AHS) web­page at (http://​www​.ahs​gar​den​ing​.org/ga…).

Spring 2024

Volume 42 , Number 1

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