Disney’s Magical Trees – Epcot’s Traditional Japanese Garden

Hello! Hello!

Today we’re continuing our tour in the world showcase landscape.

False monkey puzzle tree can grow up to 120 feet tall.

In my last blog I shared some interesting info about Asian specimens, camphor trees, weeping mulberry, and lumpy noodle bamboo. Check it out here!

Chinese landscaped gardens date back to 200 BC. Artists often created landscapes with framed views, like a painting. Oriental gardens have a romantic, naturalistic style; using rocks and water as principal elements.

The Japanese carried garden art into the abstract, creating highly stylized techniques for pruning and training trees. Traditional Japanese gardens have rocks and shrubs arranged in numbers of 3, 5, and 7 meaning heaven, earth, and man. Epcot Japan’s garden reflects a lot of these traditional elements. It’s definitely one of my favorites.

False monkey puzzle, or Araucaria bidwillii, is actually native to Australia. It’s very distinct with it’s long branches and very little secondary branching. Each branch tip has set of spirally arranged evergreen leaves (of death!), so sharp you could injure yourself with them. The tree bears 21lb pine cone fruits, that must be removed for safety. Each segment of the fruit contains an edible kernel. Kernels and shoots of the tree are eaten by indigenous Australians.

Prunus angustifolia is native to southeastern US.

Prunus angustifolia, chickasaw plum, is hardy from 5 to 9!!! It has beautiful white flowers in the spring, before leaves appear, and .5″ red, edible plums. They’re in the same genus as the cherry, which symbolizes loyalty.

DSC00893The Japanese pruning style is all about showing the architecture of the tree. This can be done with most any type of woody plant by pruning the branches growing back towards the inside of the tree. This provides great air circulation for the tree, preventing insect and fungal infestations. It also increases the tree’s vigor by removing shaded, non-photosynthetic growth. When pruning, cut 1/4″ above the node facing the direction you want the next branch to grow!


This fringe flower shrub has been pruned and trained to resemble a weathered tree.

Lorapetalum chinense (above), or fringe flower, is an evergreen shrub. It’s hardy from zone 7 – 10, grows 3-6 ft tall,  provides great color, and is low maintenance.

DSC00886Pinus elliottii, or the common slash pine, is native southeastern US. Here the branches are pruned to encourage lateral growth and form distinct layers in the canopy. Ropes and directional sunlight were also used to train the limbs to grow into its curved state. This tree can grow 30 – 50 ft tall and needles are 7-12 inches long.

I’m hoping to post specimens with wider hardiness ranges soon, so you can bring the magic back to your own garden.

If you enjoyed, please like and subscribe. I would love to hear from you. 🙂

Thanks to Debbie Mola-Mickler, Janet Wyatt, D. Scott Shultz, Phillip Marchand, Allison Brooks and to You!


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