Last week, in the middle of the night, some new characters arrived at “it’s a small world” in Disneyland park. The topiary engineering team started around 1 a.m. in the nursery and carefully transported a deer grown from Pyracantha coccinea (botanical name); Firethorn (common name) and a lion grown from Podocarpus macrophyllus maki (botanical name); Shrubby Yew Pine (common name). The entire process took about 5 hours, but you can see it here in less than one minute.
Here are some fun facts I learned from the talented topiary team:
- The deer and the lion took about one year to grow starting with 15-gallon shrubs. Other topiaries can take up to five years to be “show” ready.
- The topiary engineers go through a training program and apprenticeship so they can master the technique of maintaining these iconic figures.
- There are currently 25 character topiaries at the Disneyland Resort and hundreds of geometric and spiraled shaped topiaries.
- The plants are pruned every 2 weeks in the warm season and 1 month in the cool season. All the character topiaries are pruned by hand with the use of sheep sheers and lightweight hedge sheers. Aside from pruning, the team also continues to remove old ties and add new ties that are in place for directional “training” of limbs. A large topiary such the elephant can take 3-4 hours to prune, while a small topiary such as the ostriches only take about 30 minutes.
- Our topiary engineers have been known to give a pet name to each character topiary – including the deer and lion in the video above, who are called Divo the Deer and King Leon.