Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Beauty on a Hilltop

Thought for the day:  It's not advisable to drink too much strong liquor while climbing in the Alps. If, however, you are going to fall over a cliff, it's advisable to be thoroughly intoxicated when you do so.  [anonymous mountain climber]


Okay, so we weren't exactly climbing in the Alps. Or on a real mountain. But at a whopping 295 feet above sea level, the Iron Mountain summit is one of the highest spots in Florida. As you can see, the view from there is super, and a welcome respite from the usual flat as a cow patty terrain, but what's really terrific about this location is... what's located there on that hilltop.

The American Taj Mahal... that's what they label the model of it in the museum, anyway.


Its actual name is Bok Tower... or the Singing Tower. Comparing it to the (cough) Taj Mahal may be a bit of a stretch, but it truly is a beautiful structure. It's named in honor of Edward Bok, who was a long-time editor of The Lady's Home Journal, a Pulitzer-prize winning author, and a philanthropist. (Busy dude, huh?) The 205-foot tower, which is made of marble and coquina, is the centerpiece of a 50-acre garden, and the whole kit and kaboodle was established by Bok in 1929 as a gift to the American people. (What a guy.) Oh, and ya know why the tower is also referred to as singing? Because it houses a huge 60-bell carillon. A song is played on it at the top and bottom of each hour, and twice a day, the carillonneur plays a full 30-minute concert.

                                                  How about some more pictures?


Here's a closer look at the tower's  front door. And just look at that marble! The colors are gorgeous, aren't they?


This shot shows the back of the tower. The black thing below the balcony is a sundial. (Dontcha love the red door? I like it better than the fancy brass one in front.)


This is the arched entrance to get into the gardens. In case you can't read the inscription, it says, Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it. Evidently, this must have been an expression of Bok's personal philosophy. He certainly lived up to it with the establishment of these gardens.


A small garden outside of the museum.



This is inside the museum. The outline of the bell on the wall behind the girls shows the approximate size of the carillon bells. (!)

No picture can adequately depict how beautiful these gardens are. In some areas, there are primitive-looking plants with unbelievably enormous leaves, and all kinds of exotic ferns. (Like the tasmanian tree ferns, my favorite.) Walking on some of those paths gives you a sense of stepping back in time, almost like you should be on the look-out for dinosaurs. Or dragons. The area in this picture has lots of blooming flowers, both on the ground, and from hanging baskets all over the place.

Not all the plants were labeled, so I'm not sure what this one is. Sure is pretty, though.

A lot of the trees there are draped with Spanish moss, like these beside the  canal. Lots of fish in the water, too. Looked like carp... you know, goldfish on steroids.



This gives you a better idea of the canal-tower configuration.


These are, without a doubt, the largest lily pads I ever saw. They're about the size of extra large pizzas. (Maybe I was just getting hungry?)


All in all, Bok Tower Gardens is a fabulous place to spend the day. Be forewarned, though. Even though Bok gave these gardens to the American people as a gift, Florida still expects you to pay handsomely for the pleasure of seeing them.

I must say, it was one of the high spots of our visit. Hmmm, gotta go. For some reason, I have the sudden urge to make pizza...
                                 
                                  Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

You can't stay on the mountain forever. You have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.  [Edwin Louis Cole]

40 comments:

  1. The photos are all fantastic and I love the Bok Tower. If only it had a moat with alligators, I'd want to live in it!

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    1. Sorry, no alligators, but it shouldn't be too difficult to find some down there to stock the canal. They'd have plenty of carp to hold 'em for a while, anyway. After that, you'd better keep your cats inside.

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  2. When I first visited the tower the view was across a forest, not fields of oranges. It's a shame they couldn't have saved more of it but still a nice place to visit.

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    1. I'll bet the forest was a bit more picturesque, but I was still pretty taken with the view.

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  3. Beautiful pics! Thank you for the virtual tour. I'd love to see the Bok Tower in person someday.

    Oh, and I love that Edwin Cole quote -- so very true.

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    1. Thanks. The tower and gardens are well worth the trip. As for Cole's quote, I like it, but I'm a lot more likely to look up at an Alp from the bottom than I am to look down from its peak.

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  4. What a beautiful tower and garden!

    Around my neck of the woods in southeast Pennsylvania, we have the famous Longwood Gardens on grounds originally owned and donated by the DuPont family.

    Longwood is certainly a pretty place, but we don't have any of those luxurious tropical plants on the grounds. (In a hothouse, yes, but on the grounds, no.)

    Bok Gardens will definitely be worth a visit if I'm ever in that area!

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    1. I went to Longwood many years ago. As I recollect, it's beautiful, and I thoroughly enjoyed the visit, but the less formal gardens at Bok were more appealing to me. I'm sure you'd love them. There's also a neat garden in Baltimore you'd probably enjoy. It's a huge topiary garden, but at the moment, its name escapes me.

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  5. Beautiful photos, beautiful quote. There is of course, another reason for viewing from on high. It gives one a sense of perspective.

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    1. Glad ya liked them. Ah yes, perspective. Looking down from on high doesn't put me in my proper place of insignificance nearly as effectively as looking up at the sky, though.

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  6. Wow! I really, really want to visit. I love to stroll through gardens and this one is amazing!! Thanks for sharing--I'd never heard of Bok Tower Gardens before.

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    1. You'd love it! It really is amazing, and with something worth seeing all year round.

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  7. Never knew about this place. Sheesh, you'd think you'd see it from ten miles away in that flat landscape. :P

    Beautiful gardens. I'll have to check that out next time I'm in Florida.

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    1. You've got that right. The flat landscape gets a little monotonous at times. If you ever make it to Bok, let me know whatcha think of it. I think you'll be duly impressed.

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  8. Beautiful. I'm impressed and delighted the grounds are devoted entirely to gardens. Such a bell tower anywhere else would be crowded round with a university campus, portables and sport stadiums. I'll be careful whom I mention it to.

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    1. They really are beautiful, and I'm pretty sure the land is destined to remain as gardens in perpetuity, so you can tell anyone you'd like. (Um, except for any reaaaaally rich developers, maybe...)

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  9. Very beautiful. And I had no idea Florida was so flat!

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  10. It is. Flat, flat, flat. But you'd LOVE the diversity of plants at those gardens.

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  11. Oh, Sus, I love your final quote so much! And I envy you the opportunity to have listened to that 60-bell carrillon. I always think red doors must hold some special secret, kind of like blue doors, and we see a lot of those in the Santa Fe area. I have a print hanging by where I work. It is an old blue building with lightning bolts painted onto the windows, which are supposed to ward away evil spirits. (It's a beautiful configuration, artistically.) Anyway those colors and patterns seem to often have meaning in architecture. All hail to Bok for his contribution to meaningful buildings. ;)

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  12. Glad you like that quote. I thought it was kinda special, too. That blue building with lightning bolts on the windows sounds pretty neat. (The Tesla house?) Dunno why exactly, but as I've gotten older, I've grown more enamored with the color red. It certainly wasn't always so. I used to like all colors, with a special affinity for yellow. Now, it's red. I even have a red watch band... and a red fanny pack. My husband says I'd like ANYTHING, as long as it's red. Not so. It's purely a coincidence that my car is bright red.. and our roof and shutters are red... and my favorite shoes are red...

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  13. that first comment did make me smile

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    1. Jon's always full of stuff to make ya smile.

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  14. Wow what wonderful photos. I'd never heard of the American Taj Mahal. Love that door! The gardens are just stunning, I love that pic of the purple flowers and the Spanish moss trees.

    Are the girls in the picture your granddaughters? Very cute little ladies! :)

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    1. I'd never heard of the American Taj Mahal, either, until we saw it. (Lot of delusions in that moniker, though.) Yes, the girls are three of our family munchkins.

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  15. I love that you find and catalog these interesting things. It's like a get a teeny vacation when I read them. x

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  16. What a fantastic place to visit. I would have been in my glory there.

    It is wonderful that many philantropists give these special places to the people to enjoy. We have a few around here and I so love visiting them. Of course, most include a nice size fee to enter also.

    Do you know about the Taj Mahal in New Jersey? It was built by Donald Trump, and it is the most grotesque casino one can imagine. It just speaks "The Donald", emporer of bad taste and hair. Unfortunately, not even hurrican Sandy could tear it down.

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    1. YUK! Yeah, I've seen "The Donald's" Taj in New Jersey, and I wasn't at all impressed with it. Of course, it's entirely possible that my opinion of the building was colored by my low opinion of the buffoon who owns it.

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    2. Opps, had my o an e in wrong places in describing the emperor Donald. Let me correct that now. It should have said " the despicable Donald".

      http://xfinity.comcast.net/profile/?cid=progbar_username_myprofile

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    3. I knew whatcha meant, but I think I like the "despicable Donald" moniker even better. (Especially if you imagine that cartoon character... Daffy Duck, maybe?... saying it.)

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  17. I love the colors in the marble, this place is really beautiful, I enjoy the view looking from atop a mountain like this.

    I had to laugh because of all the pictures I did a double take looking at the girls, I was thinking to myself I know I haven't read this post already Ha Ha, looking back a very similar picture in your last post is what I was thinking :)

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    1. Yeah, I thought the colors in the marble were really special, too. Whoa! Deja vu all over again, huh? That just means you have a pretty darned good memory!

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  18. Elvis Aaron Schwarz and I will start saving our pennies and maybe someday we'll be able to afford a visit there. Or we'll just drive by and wave.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. HA! It's definitely worth saving your pennies to see.

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  19. I've been to Bok Tower Gardens a few times - it's less than 30 miles from my house!

    One year, we were there during their Oktoberfest (they call it Boktoberfest, lol). However, this year it fell on October 20, which was the same day as the Lake Mirror Classic car show.

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    1. Oh, neat! We saw the signs there for Boktoberfest, and that sounded like it would have been a lot of fun. Here, we have an Alpine village looking place called Helen, and they have a huge Oktoberfest celebration there all month long. But we've never been.

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    2. Susan, everybody I know who has been to Helen tells me about it and asks me if I've been. It's because I'm German, so everyone assumes I've been there. Alas, I've never been, but all the friends show me their pictures of it.

      You must go - it's wonderful. So everyone tells me. ;-)

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    3. Hi-ya. We've been to Helen a couple times, but just not for Oktoberfest. Then again, I don't drink beer, so I don't know if I'd enjoy it or not.

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  20. I shall be showing this piece to my dog 'Bok'.

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