Topiaries at Disney

The 18th Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot is well underway and just recently I took a trip to take a look at some of the most amazing and outstanding topiaries you will ever see at Walt Disney World.

For those that are unsure, a topiary is the horticultural practice of training live perennial plants, by clipping the foliage and twigs of trees, shrubs and subshrubs to develop and maintain clearly defined shapes such as the ones you can see all over Walt Disney World. It can take from several months to several years to grow a topiary and Disney has a very special place to do this that you can see on the video below.

I also spoke to Carla Shuman who is a landscape architect at Walt Disney World and she was a mine of information. I asked her about the process of creating a topiary and here’s what she had to say: “We usually develop a concept and story line with quick sketches, and coordinate the size and pose of new topiary with our horticulture team, sculptors and film makers. For more visible displays, a miniature mock-up helps to finalize spacing and arrangements of garden elements. The model can be a computer image or cardboard cutouts arranged with our scaled topiary maquettes. This tells us where adjustments should be made. We have taken full-size cutouts to locations to check their size and spacing. After measuring, computerized plans are used to locate topiaries, props and plant material so all can be ordered and readied for efficient installation, which often happens over night, when guests are not in the parks.”

I also asked Carla what her favorite part of the Flower & Garden Festival was and she commented: “I especially like the gardens and topiaries that use plants to tell stories. FNGLA’s Green Living Garden illustrates “Sustainable Chic” ideas with Tuscan style. Guests can see and smell the plants used to make some of Guerlain’s most famous perfumes. Topiaries seem to come to life when planted with textured grasses and colorful groundcovers.”

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