Orlando in Bloom

Now’s the time to enjoy the parks and gardens of Central Florida.
Les Thomas

Spring roars into The Sunshine State faster than a roller coaster. Families relax in Epcot beneath umbrellas of flowering trees. An artist tries to capture the vivid confetti of blooms at Harry P. Leu Gardens’s Lake Rowena.

You can see spring everywhere you look. Savor the season at these places.

A World of Flowers
Banks of blossoms, bulging flower baskets, and gardens from 11 nations help Epcot put on the biggest floral show in Walt Disney World.

Stroll along the Rose Walk, which leads from the Imagination! Pavilion in Future World to World Showcase. The flowers usually stay in bloom through Valentine’s Day. The Canada Pavilion holds the park’s largest displays of seasonal plants. Squadrons of butterflies glide over bursts of blossoms in the colorful garden"in the United Kingdom. For an inside look, book a "Gardens of the World" walking tour open to guests 16 and older. Cost is $59 per person; (407) 939-8687.

Close to Perfect
Camellias steal the show at Harry P. Leu Gardens. They bloom as bright as Easter eggs at the edge of Lake Rowena. Dianthus and sweet alyssum bask in sunny beds. Get here early enough in February to inhale the fragrance of one of the largest rose gardens in Florida. (The plants are pruned in mid-month.)

It’s also one of the most accessible gardens in the South. A home demonstration garden features an enabling area for people of all abilities with raised beds that let you get close to the plants. That’s something even the youngest visitors love; www.leugardens. org or (407) 246-2620.

Disney Fun Facts

  • Acreage devoted to landscapes and gardens: 4,000
  • Plants and annuals planted each year: more than 3 million
  • Roses planted: nearly 13,000
  • Hanging baskets produced each year: more than 5,000
  • Number of beneficial insects released annually to control plant pests: 12.5 million

More Flowers
The 14th annual Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival runs April 5-June 3. Expanded to 60 days this year, the festival features dazzling floral displays, massive topiaries, and educational programs. For more information visit www.disneyworld.com/flower, or call (407) 934-7639.

"Orlando in Bloom" is from the January 2007 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.