If it's been a few years since you've last visited a Disney theme park, you've probably forgotten what a large role the flowers, trees and plants play in the show there. How all of that carefully tended greenery often sets the stage for the attraction that's just inside.
Take – for example – the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney-MGM Studios. Without that wildly over-grown garden giving you a real sense of unease before you actually enter this long-abandoned hotel, what would you have?
Copyright 2006 Disney Editions
Well ... What you'd have is the version of Tower of Terror that the Imagineers built for Disney's California Adventure ... Where the storytelling always seemed somewhat stunted (to me, anyway) because the stage wasn't properly set before you actually entered the attraction.
It's these all-important little touches that add an air of authenticity to thrill rides like "Big Thunder Mountain Railroad" ...
Copyright 2006 Disney Editions
... Or add an additional touch of whimsy to already fanciful locations like Cinderella Castle. This is why people the world over have always dreamed that they could make their gardens at home look as good as the ones that they see when they're on vacation at the Disney theme parks & resorts.
Well, if that's really been your dream (I.E. To have a garden that looks as good as the ones you see at the Disneyland and/or the Walt Disney World Resort), have I got a book for you? Kevin Markey's "Secrets of Disney's Glorious Gardens" (Disney Editions, June 2006) does exactly what its subtitle says it does. This gorgeous hardcover reveals "Practical Tips and Inspiration for Giving Your Yard the Disney Touch."
Of course, in order to understand why the gardens at the Disney theme parks always look so great, you have to know a little bit about the man who actually gave the Mouse its start in quality horticulture: Morgan "Bill" Evans. Walt himself persuaded this Disney Legend to come supervise the initial landscaping of the Anaheim theme park back in 1954. And after that " ... Evans would spend the next four decades redefining Disneyland and every Disney theme park that followed."
The team that Bill built is still in place, still making sure that all of the flowers & plants in the park " ... function as a part of the show, working with the architecture and other elements to tell a particular story." As Evans always insisted, these " ... gardens must be beautiful in their own right, delightful places that enhance both the parks and the pleasure guests find in them."
You see, that's what makes "Secrets of Disney's Glorious Gardens" such an enjoyable read . The skill that Markey uses to fold all of that Disney history into what is basically a how-to book. Take -- for example -- the section of this handsome hardcover that deals with all the topiaries that you see at the theme parks.
First, Kevin gives you a little history (I.E. How the first cartoon character-themed topiary to be installed in the parks was one that was shaped like Dumbo. Which was placed at Disneyland back in 1963) ...
... Then Markey talks about how topiaries are produced today. No longer are shrubs carefully tended & trimmed over several years time. No, these days, Disney's horticulturists use heavy steel frames and mounds of sphagnum moss to create all of those flowering Mickeys, Donalds and Goofys that you see scattered around property.
But then, best of all (At least for your amateur horticulturists out there), Kevin actually walks you through how to recreate some of this Disney magic at home. Like building your very own hanging basket. Which could be a colorful edition to any home garden.
Loaded with enough beautifully composed photographs (The images provided for this volume by Michael Carroll Photography are particularly striking) to be a coffee table book, "Secrets of Disney's Glorious Gardens" still has enough practical information that a copy should probably be found on every amateur gardener's shelf. Plus Markey made sure that this new hardcover has enough archival photos & interesting behind-the-scenes stories to please even the biggest Disney dweeb.
Okay. I know. We're heading into the fall right now. Which is not traditionally a time when people pick up gardening books. Get a copy of "Secrets of Disney's Glorious Gardens" anyway. That way, you can then plan ahead. Map out that magical garden that you'll plant next spring.
You can thank me later.