My Disney Top 5 - Topiaries at Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival

by Chris Barry, contributing writer

My wife is an avid gardener, which means that, by association, I’m an avid gardener as well. Kind of like, I’m a Deadhead, so therefore my wife is one by proxy. Gardening isn't my passion, as it is hers, but I share her enthusiasm and appreciation for the beauty and serenity of an amazing garden and I really do enjoy helping her make our gardens look as wonderful as they do. As anyone who has ever been to our yard can attest, she does a great job. As anyone who’s ever stepped foot in a Disney park can also attest, Disney does gardens well. Perhaps that's a bit of an understatement. Nobody does gardens like Disney does gardens is a more accurate proclamation.

Once a year Epcot celebrates the Disney history of fantastic, richly detailed gardens by hosting their International Flower and Garden Festival. We were there to see the festival a few years back and we recently spent a quick get-away weekend in Walt Disney World and were thrilled when our weekend coincided with this year’s festivities. As if Epcot wasn’t breathtaking enough, the Flower and Garden Festival adds a whole other layer of eye candy to gaze at.

One of the features each year is something Disney Horticulture has always been famous for and that’s topiaries. Topiaries have been at Disneyland as far back as the early 60’s, requested by Walt himself,  and they’ve been at Walt Disney World since it’s opening in 1971. I’m a sucker for a Mickey topiary and there are hundreds of other character’s carved into ivy throughout Disney World. It’s hard to pick a favorite but I love the elephant in front of Dumbo, the sea monster in the Magic Kingdom’s hub, and Sorcerer Mickey at Hollywood Studios.

Several of the topiaries at this year’s Festival have been there before and they’re always a welcome sight. Others were either new to the festival or new to us as festival goers. All in all there were more than 70 topiaries to enjoy at Epcot. Picking my favorite five was a tall order. After much deliberating with the wife, here is My Disney Top 5 list of topiaries at the 2010 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.

5 – American Gothic Mickey

One half of American Gothic Mickey and Minnie. Photo by Chris Barry.

Anchoring Showcase Plaza was a wonderful display featuring Mickey and Minnie portraying Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic farmers. Surrounded by vegetable plants and sunflowers, our favorite mouse is holding a pitchfork and wearing glasses and overalls like his famous counterpart. It’s a new addition this year and I hope it sticks around in years to come or finds a permanent place somewhere on property.

4 – The Dolphins

One of many dolphin topiaries in this garden. Photo by Chris Barry.

Located on the walkway between the Innovention Fountains and Showcase Plaza was a display of dolphin topiaries promoting the Disney film “Oceans” released on Earth Day last month. This was my wife’s choice as coolest topiaries. The dolphins seen in various states of frolic in the sea of blue flowers were exceptionally lovely. It’s nice to see topiaries that aren’t characters and the dolphins were certainly a main feature of the Festival.

3 – The Giraffes

Two graceful giraffe topiaries alongside The Lion King characters. Photo by Chris Barry.

The Lion King topiaries have been featured for many years now and this time they were placed flanking Spaceship Earth as you enter Innoventions Plaza. While the Lion King characters are certainly beautiful topiaries, I couldn’t help but be enamored with this pair of giraffes. They're beautifully detailed and many guests were taking photos of them.

2 – Lady and the Tramp

Lady and Tramp in Epcot's Italy pavilion. Photo by Chris Barry.

The Italy pavilion in World Showcase played host to one of Hollywood’s most romantic couples, Lady and the Tramp. I realize the film didn’t take place in Italy, however the famous spaghetti and meatballs “Bella Notte” scene completely evokes the romance of Italy and certainly belongs here. We particularly loved Lady’s fuzzy ears. They were nestled in a really spectacular setting of terra cotta pots filled with amazing flowers in front of the Delizie Italiane shop.

1- The Ostriches

An ostrich ballerina from the "Dance of the Hours" segment of Fantasia. Photo by Chris Barry.

I’ve always loved Fantasia and there’s almost nothing more to say about these ostrich topiaries. Just look at them. They’re completely awesome. One would've been cool enough, but a whole bunch of them was a fantastic sight to see.

Honorable Mention – Cinderella and Prince Charming

Chris and Diane...I mean Prince Charming and Cinderella topiaries on the bridge between the U.K. and France. Photo by Chris Barry.

These two deserve a special mention and it’s mostly an inside reference for my wife and I. It was a beautiful and gracefully crafted pair of topiaries for sure, but it was more of a personal favorite and very symbolic for us. This was our first grown-ups only weekend at Walt Disney World and we really had some truly magical moments throughout our stay. I guess I could just say that the slipper fit and “the dream that we wished for came true.” She’ll understand.

If you've never been to the Flower and Garden Festival, you really are missing something special. Epcot is gorgeous enough on a regular day, but the Disney horticulturists really outdo themselves at this event. It's remarkable and enjoyable for anyone and everyone. The thing that kept impressing Diane and I was the fact that so many of the flowers and plants were not exotics. They were fairly simple things that you could find at any local nursery. But, when you combine so many of them in such an impeccable design and layout, the results are really spectacular. It's something we're aiming for in our home garden this season, abundant simplicity.

A sea of flowers in Future World. Photo by Chris Barry.

This is the last weekend for the 2010 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, so if you're heading down there, make sure you check it out. Otherwise, there's always next year.

That's My Disney Top 5 for today. What's yours? Click on the "Discuss this article on MousePad" link below and share your list!