Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mickey Mouse Horticulture

I'm never quite sure why the term 'Mickey Mouse' is used to describe something rather second rate or poorly organised. We've just come back from two days visiting Disneyland and the Californian Adventure near Los Angeles. Everything run by Disney seems to go like clockwork and be of the highest standard which includes the gardens at their resorts. My partner Philip likes to do the white knuckle rides, while I wander round at a more sedate pace taking photographs of the gardens. I was once persuaded to do the Tower of Terror but NEVER EVER again! The landscaping at these venues is always quite  spectacular and includes some top quality displays as well as some unusual plants and trees. On this occasion I was particularly taken by these trees which although maybe not rare, are certainly unusual for the UK gardener.

Dombeya cacuminum - quite beautiful!

Tabebuia impetignosa - looks like a great flowering cherry but pretty trumpet flowers close up
More information Wikipedia entry


Erythrina - Coral tree
There are excellent areas of bedding, some using familiar species such as begonia and tulip - yes together in the Californian winter! However there were also some great combinations of less familiar bedding plants used to great effect. it was good to see that lovely old fashioned annual Schizanthus  but sadly ruined by the plant breeders. This used to be a lovely graceful and willowy annual growing to  60cm (2ft) or more covered with the tiny orchid-like flowers. Its now a dumpy little characterless plant growing to 15cm (6in), albeit colourful.

Schizanthus - poor man's orchid
Gerbera hybrida

Ranunculus - probably the Accolade series

Senetti pericallis  (trade name - not sure of the real one) with Osteospermums
The landscape is nearly always in tune with the theme of the attractions and so 'Frontierland' is set amongst an arid landscape of cacti and succulents. (I did manage to do the 'Runaway Train' ride in this area!) As well as some striking specimens there were some beautifully contrived planters and set pieces of well matched succulents and container plants.




The jungle cruise was inevitably set amongst bamboos and  lush exotics. In all its superbly maintained and without a gardener in sight, I can only assume it is maintained overnight! And no the figures in the picture aren't the gardeners!


Amongst the many display beds there were some of ornamental vegetables and herbs which to my delight included the lovely heritage Beet 'McGregor's Favourite'. This lovely foliage plant produces rich glossy red leaves and is great for summer planting. Don't however expect to get a crop for pickling as this is really just an ornamental. For years I have failed to find seed of this and had assumed it to be lost. I'll just have to see if Disney can tell me who the supplier is.

Near to our hotel was a small but  beautifully designed  shopping mall called The Garden Walk. Sadly most of the units were empty and boarded up but the landscaping and planting, mainly in containers was excellent. I hope it survives the recession.






Opposite the hotel there was a chunk of wasteland colonised by a haze of tantalizing blue flowers that we could see from our third floor room. It was totally enclosed so I couldn't get in but I found a gap in the fence for this photograph. The blue is  Limonium perezii, a sea lavender, native to California. The other small budded flowers are gazanias which later in the day opened with the sun's warmth to sheets of yellow and orange flowers.


Finally I have to mention the new Disney attraction called the World of Colour. For those of you that like water features, this is the ULTIMATE! I have always admired the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas but this beats it by far. There is this huge lake filled with pipes and fountain heads which all disappear below the water's surface during the daytime. The show starts at 8pm and we found space right at the front in an area where we were warned 'You will get wet!'. For nearly half an hour our senses were assaulted with a dazzling display of  dancing fountains, colours, lasers, flames and music. In true Disney style, clips of some of the famous movies were projected, not on a screen but on a curtain of water. For video - click here


As Disney promised, we did get wet and left damp but agreeing that it was 'The Happiest Place on Earth!'

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