|Epcot in Bloom|
2005 Epcot Garden Festival
|The air's getting warm, daylight savings has given us long, lovely, light-filled afternoons, and the birds are working overtime - at long last, spring is here! And one of the most eagerly anticipated spring rituals at Walt Disney World Resort is the annual Epcot Garden Festival, a seven-week celebration of all things green, growing, and good.|
|This year's festival began April 15 and will
run up to the very brink of summer, June 5. To learn what's new and not to be missed, we
spoke to Disney Horticulturist Eric Darden.
Among the new features at this year's festival, Eric is especially excited about Minnie's Magnificent Butterfly Garden, featuring a structure filled with gorgeous butterflies and the plants they love.
Guests can walk through and commune with the winged beauties - and surrounding the house is a "butterfly garden" planted with all the flowers butterflies love best.
|Topiaries like these grace the
Festival with green.
|One returning favorite is a treat
not just for the eyes, but for the nose. A fragrance garden sponsored by Guerlain, the
oldest perfume house in the world, features the plants from which many famous perfumes are
made, plus "lift 'n' sniff" stations where Guests can smell the perfumes
themselves. According to Eric, the perfumes often smell nothing like the plants from which
they're created. "Perfumers often use the stems or even the roots of plants to create
fragrances, instead of the flower. The results can smell quite different from what you
experience in the garden," he explains. Adding to the luxurious effect are topiaries
cut in the shapes of Guerlain's perfume bottles, including the familiar Shalimar flagon.
Festival-goers will discover not just how to make their gardens beautiful, but how to make them environmentally sound as well. Gardeners will get loads of tips on water conservation, natural pest control, and more with exhibits like WaterFULL World, devoted to gardening with a minimal amount of water.
"It really demonstrates
the fact that what you do in your yard and what you put down on your yard, eventually it's
going to end up in the rivers. It shows guests how they can make their gardens more
environmentally friendly," explains Eric. "There are a lot of things for kids
woven in there, too."
Mickey gets a refreshing shower
|Water-wise gardening isn't the
only challenge Epcot's garden festival planners face; the festival runs from early spring
through the beginning of Florida's scorching summer, and finding plants that will thrive
at temperature extremes and look good for the full seven weeks is the trickiest puzzle the
horticulturists must solve.
"Last year before the festival opened, we had two nights where it got down to 48 degrees. In April the nights can still be chilly, and that's ideal weather for growing annuals. Lows in the 50s, highs in the 80s. And we usually start the festival like that, but by the END of the festival...!" Eric laughs ruefully. "Traditionally at most of our Disney parks, about halfway through Festival time is right when we do what we call a crop change. The winter bedding plants come out and the summer plants go in. But in the Festival, we try to find bedding plants that can handle both situations. The one thing we can't control is the weather!" Selecting hardy, heat-tolerant plants is key; you won't see fragile pansies in the Festival gardens, for instance.
Asked what tips he's picked up to use in his own home
garden, Eric laughs. "Generally, what goes in my own garden is what my wife likes!
We're big on butterfly gardening."
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|Originally Published: April 26. 2005 The Disney Insider|