Greetings from Sunny & Oh So Warm Florida

I’m at Disney World right now, where I will be giving talks on growing delicious and gorgeous food in small spaces until Thursday afternoon as a part of the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.

Yes, you read that correctly. You are not hallucinating. Or perhaps you are? Or perhaps I am. Maybe those bottles of water our liaison gave us when he picked us up at the airport were filled with *Magical* Disney Water and everyone here is participating in a giant group hallucination. Our minds are moving around a giant 50 square mile theme park but our bodies are asleep inside womb-like pods in one enormous room. If that’s the case, it’s all very well constructed because those painful blisters on my toes are terribly convincing.

Regardless, it is a very warm, sunny, and plant-filled hallucination so I accept.

I am told that it continues to be cold and grey back at home in Toronto so I am soaking up as much sunshine, warmth, and colour as I can in the days that remain. Here are a few sights from the first day:

I’ve spotted several tillandsia on this trip — they infest many of the trees — I’m showing you the first because it’s always the most exciting.

This is pink trumpet tree (Tabebuia impetiginosa). Several other people informed me via Twitter that there is a yellow version, too. For desperate, colour deprived Northerners, flowering trees are a religious experience right about now. Davin and I flocked around this one on one of my breaks between presentations like it was one of Epcot’s biggest attractions or a Disney child star roaming the parks. Squeee!!! Eventually a little girl asked her parents what was so special about the tree. They were as confused as she was.

This living wall was installed in the entrance to the speaker’s building especially for the flower show.

This agave dyckia bed is fantastic! Oh how I wish I could snatch up one of those purple plants to take home with me. I swoon a little every time we pass by them.

These floating flower beds are another feature of the flower show. A bit ostentatious for my taste, but I have to admit that the pattern of circles creates an interesting effect.

Wisteria outside the Chinese Pavilion. It will be ages before I see this flower in bloom in Toronto.

Greenhouse diorama!

Amaryllis planted outside, right into the ground. We’re definitely not in Toronto anymore, Toto.

In all honesty, I never expected to visit Disney World in this lifetime nor did I ever have any inclination to, so I have to admit that when I was asked to give gardening presentations I was hesitant and didn’t know what to expect. But I was assured that I could be myself and present on food gardening in the way I always do and it has indeed gone well. Everyone I have met here are true and enthusiastic gardeners and I’ve been surprised and even encouraged by the presence that food gardening has in the park grounds and in this festival. They even featured plain ole corn and tomatoes in the garden that sits at the grand entrance to Epcot.

Folks, food has hit the mainstream.

I have more to show and discuss, but my workload right now is tough and I’m exhausted. more next week when I am back at home and rested.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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16 thoughts on “Greetings from Sunny & Oh So Warm Florida

  1. Oh I went to the Epcot Flower Festival with a special friend. What fun it was! thanks for bringing back those memories, and I am thrilled to hear that they now incorporate food into the displays :)

  2. This is fantastic that you were invited to give gardening presentations at the Epcot and Flower and Garden Festival. Enjoy your stay. It is an inspiring place.

  3. Congratulations on the invite to Epcot! Orlando is my new playground, I love making the 2-hour journey from my hometown in north Florida to visit. I need to check out this flower and garden festival!

    Looking forward to more updates on this from you.

  4. I would have loved that Pink Trumpet tree also. Here in California we have a few Jacarandas in the local park, but that is about it for flowering trees.

  5. That’s funny, I went to the Epcot Flower show and thought, “Wow, I have more variety in my yard”. But maybe I’m just a plant snob.

  6. Carolyn: You would and should have more diversity in your yard. These sorts of park exhibits tend to use a lot of the same plant in repetition for visual effect. What I was impressed with was the fact that they featured edible gardens as a part of the festival…. not at all what I expected from Disney. Edibles showed up here and there among the regular exhibit beds and there was a full edible garden in the American Pavilion.

  7. I’m so excited for you! Wish I could be at the Flower and Garden Festival, cant wait too hear more about the trip.

  8. Now you are making me miss Florida so much. I lived there for eight years and enjoyed winter food gardening so much. Now I am back in Texas trying to get used to the climate here again.

    Miss my tillandsias too.

  9. Actually, Epcot’s always had something of a focus on food plants. They’ve been pushing hydroponics for years with their “Living Earth” exhibit.

    I guess what discourages me is that they have an opportunity to teach people about lesser known plants, and perhaps increase biodiversity in our plantings, but choose instead to showcase only mainstream stuff.

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