The countdown has begun! In less than 24 hours, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will be blooming with color. Guest frequently ask me, “What are your biggest challenges?” Well, this year it has to be the frequent drop in temperatures that have blanketed much of the south. We usually get a few cold nights with temperatures freezing or below. This year has certainly been an exception; our festival planning has had to be adjusted on several occasions. On average it takes over 24,000 man hours to plan and install the entire festival.
We start growing many of our topiary, floating gardens and flower towers months before the show starts. We place our forty-four large (around 9 feet tall) flower towers outside the greenhouse to get the maximum sun they need to grow. But, when temperatures drop they are brought back inside the greenhouses each night. Even the topiary that is outside get a white blanket (frost cloth) of protection and heaters warm their feet from the cold. The positive side of colder weather allows us to plant annuals that do not like the warmer temperatures.
One of my favorite bedding plants we are using throughout the festival is blue and yellow violas. With close to 500 varieties of violas distributed throughout the world, their heart shaped scalloped leaves will be easily recognized by most Guests.
Pictured (from 2009) is one of our largest flower beds planted just for the festival. During the rest of the year the area is turf; a few weeks before the festival starts gardeners pull up the turf, lay out the beds and plant up to 80,000 bedding plants. Guests can get a good view walking from the fountain to Showcase Plaza or an aerial view by monorail. The theme changes each year and I think it is one of the best picture taking spots if you love color!