Penny’s a Nurture And Hold (NAH): Nah, I won’t pull that out yet, it’s still got a green shoot. She likes dragonflies, lady bugs and new stuff only after weeding, pruning and fertilizing.
Kim’s a Want It Now (WIN): Everything pretty, everything now. She will resort to full-spectrum insecticides in desperate situations, and believes it’s her duty and right to buy new plants every weekend.
Both advocate Plant Choice (SOMEthing besides crotons. Please!), lots of color and low maintenance. We don’t agree on everything, but we’re smart enough to learn from each other - and from you.
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Overwhelmed by garden chores? Imagine planting for the Epcot Flower Festival
Posted Feb 20, 2010 by Loren Omoto
Updated Feb 20, 2010 at 11:41 PM
I have way too much to do in the garden: cut back all the brown stuff, rake up mulch and dig in compost, pull weeds.
That’s why I’m sitting here on a sunny Saturday afternoon typing instead.
I can only count my blessings I’m not in charge of installing new gardens, new beds full of millions of annuals, and bigger-than-life Disney character topiaries made of everything from live begonias to dried palm grass. That’s the job of Eric Darden, horticultural manager of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, which opens extra early—March 3—this year.
Eric is amazingly laid back for a guy planning a 75-day garden party for millions. Yesterday, he even took a few hours to give me a tour of the Disney nursery and a peek behind the shrubbery screens hiding the new gardens being installed for the 17th annual extravaganza.
I had told him I was more interested in seeing things home gardeners might learn from than the giant topiaries that get the limelight. I’ll never try to grow a 10-foot-tall Mickey Mouse, so I didn’t think I was interested.
He took me into the Topiary House anyway. WOW! Interested!
See Capt. Hook back there? And that’s American Gothic Mickey in the works to the right. Goofy’s butt on the left, and Aladdin next to Capt. Hook. That’s a real-live man in between, in case you were wondering.
Because the topiaries are made of all kinds of live plants with different watering needs, each has its own irrigation system with catheters (for lack of a better word) going to the individual parts.
For example, in-progress Daisy Duck has foliage on her arms that requres lots of water. But all that water would rot the begonias on her lovely floral blouse.
Under her tail is the control panel for her personal irrigation system.
The last topiaries, the big Great Outdoors scene at the park’s entrance to which Daisy is bound, won’t be installed until the Monday night-Tuesday morning before the festival opens on a Wednesday. But as of yesterday, about 20 percent of the 100 or so topiaries had already been put in place.
Here are Lady and the Tramp hanging out in Italy.
And in France, the Guerlain perfume bottles are already in place. During the festival, you’ll find “dip and sniff” stations here, where you can sniff the perfume, then smell the flowers that are among the ingredients.
Recognize Samsara on the left? At the Samsara station, you’ll sniff a perfume “suitable for romantic dates,” then some jasmine, iris, narcissus, violets and rose. (If you have to ask the price, you don’t need it.)
I did not become so enamored of the topiaries that I forgot about us, the regular gardeners. Among the plants I’d never seen, but will be looking for, is this geranium. Eric didn’t know the name off the top of his head, but I’ll find out and let you know. (You’ll see it in barrel containers at either Canada or Norway.)
And this new variety of ornamental kale being tested in the nursery’s trial gardens.
If you’re planning to go to the Flower Fest, I’ll have more about it in the Feb. 28 Getaway section of The Tampa Tribune, including the must-sees and -dos you might not otherwise hear about. (Of course, I may not be able to resist posting more here. I took a LOT of pictures!)