Gardening Enthusiasts Find Lots of Inspiration at Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival
Recently, I had the opportunity to take in a day at Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival. One of the biggest and most anticipated annual events held at Walt Disney World, the Flower and Garden Festival, which is co-sponsored by HGTV, boasts acres and acres of gorgeous blooms, more than 75 Disney character topiaries and other special displays, and scores of seminars and chats. Top designers from popular HGTV and DIY shows like Curb Appeal and Dear Genevieve chat with guests during presentations, and local experts round out the schedule of events with special talks on everything from grooming lawns to growing orchids. The festival, which runs from March 7 to May 20 this year, also offers the super popular Flower Power Concert Series, featuring an eclectic lineup of performers from the sixties and seventies.
As luck would have it, my day for traipsing around the beautiful festival was rain soaked to say the least! A not-so-typical completely rainy Florida day couldn't dampen my enthusiasm for the event, though. If anything, the rain made for better pictures and more vibrant colors as I strolled the grounds of Epcot.
The topiaries that Disney horticulturists create never cease to amaze me, and I always look forward to seeing them with relish. After all, huge, complex topiaries have been a Disney trademark since the beginning, and represent some of my fondest and earliest memories of visits to Magic Kingdom. Once again, the gardening staff have outdone themselves, with sumptuous displays paying homage to classic characters like Mickey and Friends (in fact, Mickey makes a few appearances), the crew from Peter Pan, and Lady and the Tramp. Classics join new friends with creations from Disney*Pixar films like Cars and Toy Story. If you are up for the challenge, try a scavenger hunt to see just how many of these works of art you can spot!
Other special displays beckon from every corner of the park. Children love the fluttering beauty of Bambi's Butterfly House. The English Tea Garden, hosted by Twinings, features a 20-minute tour detailing the art and history of tea in a beautiful English garden setting in World Showcase. And this year, be sure to stop by Haiti: Garden of Many Colors, hosted by Haiti Originale. Guests can partake of special beverages made with Haitian rhums and liqueurs, and shop from a selection of authentic Haitian products.
While there is so much to see and do and experience at the Flower and Garden Festival, without a doubt, the highlight of my day was my time at Festival Center, which serves as headquarters for the Festival. Here you will find a Festival gift shop, offering a wide array of garden-themed gifts, as well as Intermissions Cafe, a great (and cool!) place to stop for a light snack, meal, and a glass of wine. Featuring the wines of Moet Hennessy, this is a terrific spot to relax and refuel!
Also under the dome of Festival Center, guests find the HGTV Designers' Stage, as well as the Greenhouse Stage and the Ask the Expert Area. In the middle of the round space, you can wander into the HGTV Theater for a loop of your favorite how-to shows. There was a full schedule of events the day I was there, so I had the pleasure of choosing two informative and entertaining talks " both free with the price of admission to the park.
The Greenhouse Stage
My first stop was The Greenhouse Stage. This area, located to the left as you enter Festival Center, has both tables and seating, hinting at the fact that you are about to get your hands into a project of your own! The seminar that I wandered into (without a reservation) was Cabbage, Collards, and Beans-Oh My! A Southerner's View on Growing Fruits and Vegetables. Robert Bowden, author of Guide to Florida Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, hails from Orlando's own Leu Gardens. Mr. Bowden was incredibly entertaining and knowledgeable, as he peppered his audience with practical tips on everything from choosing a ripe watermelon (use a piece of straw from your broom!) to taming pesky weeds with a safe and natural white vinegar solution. The talk wrapped up with an opportunity to garden ourselves, as we each had the chance to plant baby bok choy in biodegradable coconut husk pots. My plants are proudly growing in the Florida sunshine as I type!
HGTV Designer's Stage
Immediately following my time with Robert Bowden, I wandered over to the HGTV Designer's Stage in preparation for a talk by HGTV's John Gidding, host of Curb Appeal. While I expected the show to be interesting, I was unprepared for how completely entertaining and funny this guy would be. From the moment that he leapt off the bench from among us, clothed casually in cords, a t-shirt, flip flops, and socks, he never stopped interacting with the large audience. Gidding was from one side of the room to the other, taking questions, flipping through slides of house makeovers (many sneak peeks from the upcoming season), and offering tips and suggestions for guests to take home and improve their own home's "curb appeal." He was funny, charming, and knowledgeable. The hour passed quickly, as I learned that I should replace my "boring" house numbers with something that stands out, and the path to my front door should probably meander a bit.
If you plan to take in time at Walt Disney World this spring, be sure to schedule your trip for a time when you can see the magic and wonder of the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. With so many beautiful attractions, jammin' music, and informative seminars, it's a special event that's worth the trip.
Many thanks to Brooke Fehr from DisZine.com who wrote this lovely guest post for us about her experience at the 2012 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.
Do you think that you would enjoy the Epcot International Flower and Garden Show? Leave me a comment saying what inspires your green thumb!