Welcome back to the happiest horticulture on Earth, as we complete our in-depth photo essay on the Disneyland Cultivating the Magic tour. Hopefully you’ve already enjoyed part one of this series, in which we explored the fascinating flora found in Disneyland Park, from Main Street U.S.A. through Adventureland and New Orleans Square. In this second installment, we’ll examine the lovely landscaping in Frontierland, Fantasyland, and finally Tomorrowland.
This metasequoia, or dawn redwood, has quite a history. Originally thought to be extinct, a living example was rediscovered in central China in 1941.
Four samples were taken, and one was presented to Bill Evans, who planted it here near the Stage Door Cafe.
Tom Sawyer Island, which was originally designed by Walt himself on a napkin, uses stand-ins for native species to simulate Missouri ecology in SoCal.
Evergreens are used to avoid a “dead” look during winter, and the African cape fig near the blacksmith shop was one of only two in North America at the time of its planting.
In Frontierland’s Mexican region near Rancho del Zocalo, look for the olive tree, and Bougainvillea vines on the awning that appear to be attacking the building.
…and scan the castle moat for a turtle family of red eared sliders.
Disneyland’s horticultural artists are faced with the challenge of “how to landscape with whimsy?” In answering, they attempt to evoke animated images in foliage by using plants with bright, vivid colors, and pruning them into unnatural shapes.
The area around Snow White’s Scary Adventures is planted with greyish-green leaves, and no bright flowers save for some dark red ones inspired by the witch’s poison apple.
This “Disneyland Rose” was officially named to commemorate the park’s 50th anniversary. It starts apricot and turns pink, with deep green leaves and a strong fragrance. You can find it growing near the Dumbo ride.
New Fantasyland has added stone castle walls to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, but Disneyland has long had this hedge wall.
Finally, we come to the highlight of the tour for me, a private cruise down the Storybook Land Canals to learn about the minature marvels growing along their shores.
The tiny gardens in this attraction rely on ancient Bonsai-inspired growing techniques, and stand-in species that resemble their larger cousins. Oriental sweet gums mimic London oaks in Peter Pan’s park; the Seven Dwarves’ “Black Forest” is made of Norfolk Island pines; and the Patchwork Quilt consists of 20 different varieties of succulents.
The topiaries outside it’s a small world were Disneyland’s first. Topiaries can take a quarter century to mature, but Bill Evans invented a “short order” system of stuffing fast-growing plants inside a wire frame.
Currently, it takes 7 to 10 years to grow each of these 16 hedge animals, which then have to be replaced every 10 to 15 years.
Not far from the Alice in Wonderland attractions you’ll find this peppermint rose, chosen because it looks like a white rose that the Queen’s cards have painted red.
The word “ALICE” is spelled out in frosted melon plants.
The multi-colored flowers planted outside Pixie Hollow represent Tinker Bell’s fairy friends.
Since Tomorrowland is primarily a land of concrete, we spent the least amount of time here, but there is still foliage of note to be found in the future.
Disneyland’s Matterhorn mountain, built in 1959, is planted with cool colors to enhance the icy theme and sense of scale.
A legacy of the 1998 overhaul of this land is the “agrifuture” idea of edible landscaping. You’ll find cabbage, avocado, rosemary, and other tasty herbs and vegetable in Tomorrowland’s flower beds.
These orange trees are a nod to Disneyland’s origins as a citrus grove.
Finally, our tour concluded with a couple parting gifts: an exclusive collector’s pin, and a packet of forget-me-not seeds to plant at home.
Many thanks to our guide Karen for a fantastic experience. If you have the slightest interest in Disneyland’s natural wonders, and are willing to take a couple hours away from the Indiana Jones Adventure (I hard choice, I know) then I can’t recommend the Cultivating The Magic Tour highly enough during your next visit.