Bok Tower Gardens – Lake Wales, Florida

Intro / Description

Kevin M. saw some internet chatter about a Rufous Hummingbird sighting at Bok Tower.  The bird had been hanging out in some flowering bushes near the “Window by the pond”.  Although the Rufous does sometimes migrate through Florida, Ruby Throated Hummingbirds are normally the only kind we see, so this is a bit unusual.

Kevin  organized a Photography Interest Group expedition and he, Lutfi, and I headed over on Saturday morning to try to find this bird.  It was right where it was reported and in fact there were several of them.  We saw multiple Ruby Throated Hummingbirds too.  The Rufous seem more aggressive – they chased the Rubies away from the plants where they were feeding.

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird resting on a twig, Bok Tower Gardens.  Tiny birds:  this one was about 3 inches long.

Info for Photographers

Bok Tower is open every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m and admission is $12 for adults and $3 for children, although if you arrive on Saturday mornings between 8 and 9 like we did, you can get in for half price.

Personal photography is permitted in all areas.  Commercial photographers should contact management to receive authorization before visiting.

This is a 250-acre botanical garden and bird sanctuary, located near Lake Wales and is one of the highest places in the state at an elevation of almost 300′.  It’s named for the 205′ pink marble and coquina tower which includes a carillon that you’ll hear every half-hour and at twice daily concerts (1 & 3 p.m).  Bok Tower is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Door and reflection
Bok Tower door and reflection – the base of the tower from the reflecting pool side.

Photo hints:

There’s quite a variety of subjects to photograph here.  You can shoot landscapes, architecture, many kinds of flowers, and several varieties of butterflies.

Path and trees
Path and trees – a false color IRFE (infra-red, fish-eye) photo.  I made this photo right before they started to set up for a wedding.

Bok Tower Gardens is also a bird refuge where you can find a number of species.  The day we visited, we saw the Rufous and Ruby Throated Humming birds, Blue Jays, Mockingbirds, Doves, a Gray Catbird, a Brown Thrasher, a Tufted Titmouse, Cardinals, Red Wing Blackbirds, a few wading birds, and others.  We heard that wild turkeys and Sand Hill Cranes are often on the grounds too.

Tripod/Monopod:  Allowed and very useful for the normal reasons.

Lenses:  To cover all the subjects here, you should bring a variety of lenses from wide (for landscapes), macros (for butterflies and flowers), and telephoto (for birds).

Best time to visit:  Fall is good for migrating birds and springtime is great for flowers.


The gardens are about a 90 minute drive from the Winter Springs and are close to Legoland.  It’s also close to the can’t miss Spook Hill.


Bok Tower is one of the best botanical gardens in Florida, plus it has the tower, scenic landscapes, and at times an interesting  bird population.  Well worth your time.

My Gallery /  Flickr photo set:
Address: 1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales, FL 33853
Phone: 863.676.1408
Map: View in Google Maps
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating:  Autumn hummer haven; Spring flower fun – well worth a visit.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

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