Hammock Hollow Children's Garden Opens Sept. 10

CONTACT: Erica Smith
Director of Marketing
(863) 734-1210
August 16, 2016
Hammock Hollow Children's Garden features cooling water features

Say HELLO to Hammock Hollow Children's Garden Opening September 10

LAKE WALES, Fla. – After years of plans, designs and construction, Bok Tower Gardens ushers in a new generation of pint-sized visitors with the opening of Hammock Hollow Children’s Garden Saturday, September 10. This long-awaited garden of wonder and discovery provides 2.7 acres of nature-inspired play unlike any public garden in the nation.

The addition of a children’s garden was a directive of the 20-year master plan developed by the Gardens leadership in 2011. The opening of Hammock Hollow builds upon Edward Bok’s 1929 gift to the nation and demonstrates Bok Tower Gardens’ ability to remain a beloved and enduring cultural and historic landmark. Funding for the children’s garden endeavor was provided by the generous support of donors who participated in the Preserve the Legacy, Steward the Future campaign.

Designed by the New York City and Charlottesville, VA- based landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz, under the direction of Thomas Woltz, in collaboration with the local firm Coyle & Caron and Mary Wolf Landscape Architect, this garden adventure has a sense of place as a Florida hammock forest with logs, rocks and water to explore. The overall educational mission of the garden is to convey the importance of plants to animals and to humans for food, shelter and happiness.

The surrounding natural landscape sets the backdrop of the design process. “The rare and fragile sand hill ecology adjacent to the children’s garden was the central inspiration for elements of play, topography and education,” said Thomas Woltz. He continued, “The design team used amplified scale and natural materials to create experiences that give children and adults an empathetic understanding of the diverse animals and their architecture.”

Reflecting the art and spirit of Bok Tower Gardens, Hammock Hollow incorporates cooling water features, vibrant plantings, a boardwalk, play areas with climbing features, a stage for little performers, and plenty of space to build, dig, create and explore. These new garden experiences are delightful for the young and young-at-heart as all visitors will be enchanted by the natural beauty, discovery-based learning and unique horticultural elements.

“Visitors are greeted by a climbable pebbled-covered sculpture in the form of an indigo snake lying in a sandy play area, springs gush from karst ledges of native limestone and for the adventurous child, a segmented tunnel through the hillside allows them to imagine life as a gopher tortoise, an iconic species of concern on the Lake Wales ridge,” said Woltz.

Located a few steps away from the children’s garden entrance, The Alexander Discovery Center offers a contemporary meeting and gathering space for programs, small classroom learning, and staging for field trips.

Take a Walk Through Hammock Hollow

The Gateway
Step through our “sneaky” keystone gate and stroll upon the swirls of a pebble mosaic created by sculptor Kevin Carman as your garden adventure begins. Specially created mosaics of a red-headed woodpecker and gopher tortoise compliment smaller mosaics located along the trail and the large mosaic indigo snake in the sand play area.

Indigo Pass
His inky-black pebble mosaic scales may glisten in the sunlight, but this larger-than-life indigo snake sculpture is a friendly fellow who surrounds a tot-sized sand circle encouraging sand play and motor skills. Grab a bucket and feel the sand between your fingers. This area also features a bamboo path leading from Indigo Pass to River Run.

River Run and Ledge Walk
Cool off in the sparkling springs of River Run and discover a refreshing display of fountains, spray jets, misters and foggers. Explore plenty of nooks and crannies along the Ledge Walk with cool, fern-covered rocks reflective of Florida’s remarkable karst limestone outcrop.

The Hammock featuring the Edward Bok Word Garden, Fence Swift Stumpery, Stick Stack, and Fairy House Trail
Jump, climb and scamper through a lively oak hammock that provides a sprawling yet shady canopy for physical and creative play. Words were very important to Edward Bok, a Pulitzer-Prize winning author and the publisher of Ladies Home Journal. The Word Garden is dedicated to his memory. Inspirational words etched in stone are a learning moment about qualities that make the world better. The Fence Swift Stumpery is a garden installation inspired by the agile and acrobatic lizards native to the uplands of Florida. This garden habitat draws attention to the beauty of stumps highlighted by ferns and air plants.

Hammock activities include the Fox Den log climb, a Stick Stack for building kid-sized structures and forts, and the whimsical Fairy House Trail where garden fairies can be found living in houses built by children. This setting provides an opportunity to highlight plant, animal and human relationships and their dependency upon the forest for food and shelter. Unique plant life here will include hanging Spanish moss, resurrection fern-covered branches and epiphytes growing in the tree crevices.

Back in Time Garden, Frog Hop and Warbler Thicket
Take a walk through a Cabbage palm forest and play inside a Seminole-inspired Chickee Hut. The homestead has an outdoor kitchen with pots, pans and a vintage water hand pump. This area evokes the historic nature of old Florida and is also home to the Frog Hop that tests even the most skilled jumpers with a series of log challenges. The Warbler Thicket is a short walk through a honeysuckle tunnel.

Sabal Stage, Art Gardens and Acorn Chase
Take to the stage for a set of garden experiences designed to encourage budding musicians and artists with performing arts and hands-on activities. The Sabal Stage is a venue for special artistic performances and serves as a springboard for impromptu theater with different animal costumes available for creative play. 

The Heart of the Hammock is a home for music and visual arts with a garden gallery to share your drawings and paintings with the next visitor. Tuned acoustic instruments allow visitors to make soft harmonic music evoking the rich musical heritage of Bok Tower Gardens. Parents and kids can also take a rest in the rope hammocks. Nearby is a zig-zag balance beam surrounded by giant acorns sculptures by David Price in the Acorn Chase.

Spider Climb
Climb and weave your way through this gigantic spider-web-inspired play structure.

Cypress Boardwalk
Walk along the boardwalk and through the Bird Hollow situated along a stunning Cypress grove. Bird feeding stations and plantings for wildlife attract birds and butterflies to this area.

Bobcat Scramble and Rolling Hare Hill
Embrace your inner bobcat and stalk through this rocky terrain or take a hare’s quick strategy and roll down a small grassy hill.

Pine Place
Cool off by crawling underground into the Gopher Tortoise Burrow. The gopher tortoise is called a keystone species because it shares its burrow with over 350 other types of animals. Now you can be part of the gopher tortoise parade with his other friends. Behind the sand play area in the gopher den is a secret nap bench located in the palm dome. The fallen oak next to the burrow is a where the mischievous Reynard The Fox lives. His crafty ways gets him around the garden unseen.  

Backyard Ramble
Is this the end or is this the beginning? A backyard can be an exciting place to grow vegetables, flowers, and shelter for wildlife. This area is a ramble of plants for wildlife, food and fun.

A Vision for the Future
Throughout the entire process, Gardens’ president David Price envisioned Hammock Hollow Children’s Garden as a place for kids to learn through power of the natural world and experience art in a tactile, meaningful way. “A children’s garden should provide a beautiful landscape that inspires discovery that lasts a lifetime. Our collective vision has been to build a place where nature is not a backdrop but a living entity for families to explore together and create a lasting connection. Hammock Hollow is a place for kids to find themselves and while getting lost in the wonder of plants, animals and art,” said Price. “These experiences will plant a seed of appreciation for the natural world in the children that visit and those seeds will grow and bear fruit in the years to come,” he continued.

Woltz echoed Price’s comments. “This garden seeks to inspire young and old to an understanding of the rich biodiversity of the region and to greater stewardship of these beautiful ecosystems,” said Woltz.

Bok Tower Gardens will celebrate the grand opening of the Hammock Hollow’s Children Garden and the new garden spaces on Saturday, September 10 with a special dedication ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. The Gardens will open at 8 a.m. and general admission will be free for this historic event.