Preparing for the Epcot Flower and Garden show

A quick post on the prep work Dave and I did to our trees to get them ready for Epcot.
Every spring, Epcot, at Walt Disney World, has a flower and garden show that showcases different aspects of gardening around the world. The theme of Epcot is a mix up of high tech marvels and traditional cultures.
Japan is one of the countries represented and therefore, at a flower and garden show, bonsai (being somewhat Japanese, is one of the gardening arts shown.
This bonsai display,however, is different from any other bonsai show in the world; instead of a weekend or 4 or 5 days, the show lasts for two and a half months.
Preparation is, therefore, a little different.
Any repotting must have been done at least a month ago. There’s no slipping a tree into an expensive pot at the last minute.
The health of the tree is important (it has to live in that pot for at least two months, after all). We do a final trimming before the show and adjust branches accordingly but the tree will continue to grow (in Florida, in the spring, one could get more growth on a tree than all year in some parts of the world.) and any wire applied must be able to last that long or get removed halfway through the show. Trimming is done every week by members of BSF. Fertilizer must be applied as needed and also any pesticides etc.
It is all organized by the Epcot committee chairman, Paul Pikel. I do not envy his job. He is able to make everything happen flawlessly.
I already posted on Facebook the finished trees (Adam Lavigne, friend me. I’m nice)
Here they are again

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Dave Velez’s ficus salicaria grove.

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And my podocarpus microphylla

On Daves tree (yes, that Dave) the prep consisted of moving some branches to fill in some bald spots (Dave wishes he could do that with his hair)
And mossing the top of the soil.
We had a hard time with finding moss. I had to actually import it from Tampa (thanks again!)
I figured it was about a square yard we needed for both trees combined.
That’s a lot of moss in the dry season in Orlando.

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First we fertilized (nothing too harsh, just Milorganite) and trimmed what needed trimming. Then mossing.

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Looks good, right?
That’s Dave in the back. Gives you an idea of how big his tree is.

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This is my podocarpus. We are using several different kinds of moss to make the tree a bit more natural.

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The reddish moss on the left is actually red from blooms.
And on the right is another kind with green blooms.
It’s cool looking but also, with the length of the show, the idea is that it will grow new moss with the spores from these blooms.

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If you look closely, you’ll see grey sand between the pieces. This will wash away when I water it in. It’s just the dirt that the moss was growing on.

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As a last detail I oiled the pot (I used grapeseed oil because that’s what I had. Which is odd because I’ve never bought grapeseed oil. A customer gave it to me. To eat. Not to use on bonsai )

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We did have a few scares. On Saturday night Dave’s tree spent the evening on my kitchen counter. The forecast was for 38 Fahrenheit. Which is cold enough for frost.
We prepped the trees on Sunday.
That night it was forecast for 38 as well (32 is freezing) but I didn’t bring it in (a ficus is tender; it will freeze.)
Except, at 2am Monday morning, I woke up and brought it in for some reason. Maybe my toes were cold. Good thing I did.
The city of Orlando, that night, broke the low temp record. It reached 30. Which, at my house, means it was 29/28.
Damn!! Dave is lucky. He better be grateful I’m his friend. I think I hurt my back bringing it in that night too. Ouch, ooh, oww.
Today is Tuesday and I’m taking the trees to the Disney property for an early morning Wednesday install.
The show will last from March 6th until May 18th at Epcot in Orlando.

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Come on by and see the show.
I’ll get pics of the trees on display and post them later.

About adamaskwhy

Visual artist specializing in bonsai, mostly.
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9 Responses to Preparing for the Epcot Flower and Garden show

  1. Mills says:

    Wish I could be there. I know it’ll be a great one. And *please* don’t forget to post pics afterward !!!

  2. Great trees! It’s a shame about the wire marks that trunk in the grove. I’ve heard about wiring in reverse of the wire marks and letting it bite in a bit to disguise the original damage.

  3. Mills says:

    How much “Milorganite” do you allot per application for these guys and how often during growing season?

    • adamaskwhy says:

      I put it on so there’s an even distribution of about 1/4 inch between granules.
      In Florida we get a lot of rain so I apply every season, spring,summer, then fall. Deciduous I don’t fertilize in winter. But my tropicals get fertilized all year. I’ve found that if they’re growing, they can handle the winter better

      • Mills says:

        Thanks. I’m up in SC. I’ve seen apply every 2 – 3 weeks during growing season, and I thought that might be a little too much, even though the mfg’r says it won’t burn.

      • adamaskwhy says:

        The one difference with bonsai and regular landscape plants- we want them growing, but not too much that the roots can’t handle the foliage.
        Unless you’re pushing the tree (in which case it shouldn’t be in a bonsai pot) nice even growth is what you want; it’s also less susceptible to insects and disease.
        If its raining too much you can use it more. It gets used up every time water hits it.

  4. Mills says:

    Adam, what’s the difference between podocarpus “microphtlla” and “macrophyllus”. Are both the Chinese yew? Is one a dwarf of the other? Will they thrive & survive the low temps in zone 8?

    • adamaskwhy says:

      The correct botanical name is p.macrophyllus. I made a mistake in the first Epcot post. There is a dwarf variety but its called p. macrophyllus “Pringles” I believe.
      It’s cold hardy to 8 b so you may have to protect it as a bonsai.

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