Saturday, June 18, 2011

1st Annual Floriculture Performance Trials

PFTP was in the parks for the last day of Epcot's 2011's Flower and Garden Festival and one of the more practical and useful exhibits we found was the Floriculture Performance Trial area nestled between Epcot's International Gateway and the walkway to the Epcot area resorts.

This exhibit, presented by HGTV, is a partnership between Walt Disney World and the Florida Nursery, Growers, and Landscape Association, or the FNGLA. The exhibit features cultivars grown specifically for the central Florida area (think water saving varieties) and for sale elsewhere in the US.

All told, more than 200 new plant varieties were on display, cultivated by more than 21 breeders and all propagated/grown by Riverview Flower Farms and Knox Nursery. 39 beds were created for the performance trials, and each bed became home to 4" plants. The plants were added to the ground 6 weeks before the trials, which took place May 12th and 13th and the landscape Imagineers were responsible for the care and feeding leading up to the trials.

Each plant was scored based on percentage of bloom, color uniformity, height uniformity, and disease resistance and assigned a score of Superior, Excellent, Good, or Poor. Of the 200+ plants, most scored in the Excellent or Good range with twenty receiving a Superior rating while only two received a poor rating. (Full results are available here.)

Needless to say, the combination of so many plants in one spot was amazing to the eye and pointed out that while Epcot's original emphasis on education has been watered down over the last 29 years it still provides guests an opportunity to learn. Let's hope this first annual performance trial continues as part of next year's Flower and Garden Festival and that some of these award winning plants find their way into our yards.

The good folks at FNGLA posted this video showing the transformation of the trial area into a finished product :

These photographs were taken by the author in May 2011.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bamboo Graffiti

Walt Disney World features an abundant use of nature's fastest growing grass: bamboo. This prodigious plant is a common feature within the Florida parks with extensive use in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, and anywhere else fast growing cover is required.

This particular clumping of bamboo (above) is located at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, in the main pool area close to a savanna overlook station, and has been uniquely marked by guests to the area. If you get a chance, take a look and see for yourself just how long this unique graffiti lasts.

There are many genus and specie of bamboo and 'bambusa oldhamii' (Oldham's Bamboo) is one of the most common with its segmented green stalks, short branches, and long leaves. This plant is native to Taiwan and also referred to as Giant Timber bamboo. Regardless of its details, bamboo grows very quickly and is especially well adapted to the WDW parks.

These photographs were taken by the author in May 2011 and October 2010.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Animal Kingdom Lodge Lights

As guests step inside Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge from the Arusha Rock area they are greeted by an intricate stairway that leads to the main lobby floor punctuated by two finely sculpted lights. These fixtures depict at least four species of birds which, one would expect, can also be seen in real life outside in the savanna area.

These lights are easily overlooked but represent an extraordinary touch. The detail is simply amazing and brings to mind yet another parallel to this hotel and Disney's Animal Kingdom park; namely the Tree of Life.

In addition to these items there are lights above the main lobby floor that invoke a feeling of being set down upon by giant moths; these lights appear to resemble the translucent wings of the nighttime insects and are especially beautiful at night.

These photographs were taken by the author in May, 2011.