Every year, in the spring, Epcot has a Flower and Garden festival that usually lasts from March to May.
Within Epcot there are different countries represented in themed pavilions and Japan happens to be one if them.
One of Japan’s contribution to the Festival is (if you’ve read this blog before you may know) bonsai.
The challenge in a bonsai display happening for this long is this: bonsai grow.
So, every week, volunteers go and trim the bonsai, pull weeds, and basically make sure they are doing well.
I am one of these people. I’ll be volunteering 3 times during the show.
With this post I will give some idea of how I go about the process and I’ll also give you some eye candy to look at.
When we go for our maintenance duty we enter through the back gate and we get to see what Disney calls “backstage”. I won’t put any pictures up of there because it will destroy the Magic for you. Seriously. I won’t even describe it.
Anyhow, I park behind the Japanese Pavilion and and go “onstage” and the first thing I do is walk around and look at the trees. I meet with the area managers and they ask if I need a ladder or the waders (yes, waders, there is the one cypress in the koi pond)
Interestingly, the only tree I might need the ladder for is my own. Disney has done a good job mitigating the possibility of injury in the placement of the stands this year. In years past I remember having to try to trim a tree where the stand was 7 feet tall and the tree was ten feet at the top. The ladder (a 3 legged ladder at that) was only six feet tall. And the ground is covered in 8-10 inch wide river rock.
None of that this year. Although I do have to stand on a railing to trim one tree.

I sharpen my scissors, get out my trusty tweezers and “….off to Neverland!”
First tree is this beautiful nea buxifolia.

It’s probably the most natural looking tree here; very well done by the artist. It, being a tree from Puerto Rico and, subsequently not liking our oddly cold spring, is not growing yet. I pulled some weeds. The moss is really good too

Nice variety and textures. I can imagine him scouring his property looking for it.
Next tree is this big ficus salicaria

It’s growing well and doesn’t need any trimming.
This one has bright green moss

The next tree is also a ficus salicaria

We’ve had some 40 degree Fahrenheit nights since the shows install and I believe there has been some frost.
These leaves

show classic cold damage. Surprisingly, frost can occur above freezing (32) and we Floridians sometimes walk a fine line in the winter when it comes to that.
This damage won’t hurt this ficus, it’ll just drop the old leaves soon like this

The moss is a little rough too.
The next two trees didn’t need anything done to them except they were on the stands backwards. When we first installed them the original location for them was almost behind a new food kiosk. When there was a line the trees were obscured from view.
Disney moved them. But I guess they put them backwards.
Here are the trees with the corrected front views


You don’t get to see the rear view.
Although probably close to a hundred thousand people saw them that way. Oh well. They are correct now.
The next tree is the one in the pond.

I had one of the Horticulture people go and trim it for me. There was just 3 shoots out of the silhouette.

Thank you sir! Those rocks are slippery.
Next we go up the ramp and look around.
This ficus salicaria was frozen before the show

All the red buds are a good sign. It’ll fill in quickly now.
It too has good moss

And an amazing trunk and surface roots.
This being early spring there wasn’t much trimming going on.
This podocarpus was just putting out growth

And this cypress seems to be a slow starter too

They’re both healthy but, with this odd spring, I think they’re just confused. Like me most of the time.
I got a good pic of this bougie that I missed in the last Epcot post (click here for it.)

It’s blooming good now.
The tree next to it is a nice bald cypress with knees (even!).

And also this show stopper of a buttonwood

The deadwood is spectacular


The buttonwood will start to shed its leaves at this time and that’s what I trimmed on it. If it were my tree at home I would defoliate it totally. But this is on display and it needs some leaves.
Speaking of that, next we have my tree.
I got this cool pic

I may end up with a blue aphid problem. Need to keep an eye on it.
Across the way we have the Simpson stopper

Which seems to be un-photographable by me. It’s about to explode with flowers

And my friend Tony’s tree

There’s not much growth yet but it is very green and healthy. I trimmed 2 shoots.
And look at that base-

Tony grew this from a tree in his front yard.
Next is Dave’s tree

It’s replaced all its old leaves now and is starting to grow. It’s going to need a trim next time.
This is like looking into a rainforest

I really enjoyed the time it spent at my house.
Next we go to the “zen” garden.
This is the only area so far that gets full sun.
We have a juniper

Kinda styled classically. I’m hoping the owner didn’t stress it too much recently.
The red arrow is showing the new growth

Which looks like its reverting to juvenile foliage; that happens when it’s over pruned or over fertilized.
And the blue arrow is showing a cone/flower thingy. Which, if I did my research correctly, means its the male part of the trees reproductive organs. Looks like a cute little pine cone, doesn’t it? Awwwww!
The next tree is this massive ficus microcarpa

This tree is growing the best of all the ficus. It’s probably because it’s in full sun.
Next is this really well ramified podocarpus

Look at that trunk

Not much to do on it except to pull some weeds.
This next tree is the first duranta bonsai I’ve seen.

The pot is hand painted (he also paints using Chinese brush)
And this is the best carving on an Epcot tree I’ve ever seen

And it’s the only tree of all of them that’s growing quickly now.
And, the best for last

This is a ficus salicaria. The trunk is more than a foot at the base and stands close to 4 feet tall. Truly spectacular.

My next maintenance is in a couple of weeks. Should be interesting to see is spring finally comes to the Mouse House or not. Hope you enjoyed the different camera angles I use this time instead of the usual centerfolds.

12 thoughts

      1. Adam,
        I’m actually going to be down there to close on my house April 17-23, so I will definitely try to take it in.


  1. Hi Adam, I enjoyed your personal perspective very much. Heidi ( Heidrun Wellnitz )

    Sent from my iPhone


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