This is my first time showing one of my trees! I was honored to have my Green Island Ficus chosen for the 2022 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. It will be on display from March 2nd until July 5th at the Japanese Pavilion.
About the Tree
This Ficus microcarpa in the banyan style has been in my care since December 2019. It's approximately 30 years old, originally grown by Feng (Gary) Gu of Penjing Bonsai Garden in Malabar, Florida. Its most recent measurements are 32 x 49 x 27 inches (height x width x depth), with the pot being 5 x 46 x 27 inches (H x W x D). The first time I saw this tree I fell in love with it and it's still my favorite tree to this day. I feel honored that I was permitted to purchase this tree from Gary. I had just started my bonsai journey earlier that year but I was determined! My goal was to be able to take great care of this tree. I spent all my free time self-studying from videos, books, visiting Gary at his nursery, and practicing on all the plants I could get my hands on. No plant around my house was safe from me! I built a 3 ft x 6 ft x 32 in (H x W x D) table, equipped with an extra shelf for storage and wheels, just for this tree. We also traded in my Mazda Speed 3 for a 15 passenger Ford Transit and removed most of the seats. I knew I was committed to bonsai for life and I wanted to be ready for my future with bonsai. I would not bring this tree home until Gary and I felt I was ready to take on the task of caring for it.
Since bringing it home, it has been repotted into a larger pot and has grown a great deal. When I bought it, the tree was in a much smaller and shallower pot. There were several aerial roots that were growing outside the pot. I planted the outside aerial roots into little plastic pots to preserve them until I could repot the tree. It was funny to look at with all the tiny pots surrounding the big pot. Later, I repotted the tree into a bigger pot (pictured) and have since developed the canopy more with more defined pads as well as more aerial roots. I’d still like to grow out more of the canopy to fill in some gaps as well as more aerial roots. I love watching this tree grow and I'm always finding myself learning something new about it. I'm excited to see what it will look like in the future!
What a wonderful experience! It started on March 1st by loading my tree into my van (pictured) with the help of my father and one of his friends. Later that afternoon after teaching my cello students, my father and I headed to Disney's Coronado Springs Resort & Gran Destino Tower, where I was scheduled to meet everyone involved in this event. I saw some familiar faces and met several new people! We discussed the plan for setup and grabbed a late dinner. By the time we finished, it was close to midnight and we had to be up before 4 am! We managed to get in a few hours of sleep before we had to meet everyone in the lobby and make our way to Epcot's backstage area. Disney doesn't disappoint! At 4am Epcot's backstage is alive! Hundreds of people working to make Epcot's visitor experience magical! Little by little, small groups of exhibitors were escorted to the Japanese Pavilion where we were able to unload our trees. Three Epcot employees were able to lift my tree up onto its stand. I was so nervous watching but I couldn't look away. My tree was placed in between Josh Brown's Loropetalum (left) and Reggie Perdue's willow leaf ficus (right). What a beautiful sight! Better than I could have ever expected. It was a cold early morning and I was exhausted but seeing the sunrise behind my tree with Epcot's signature sphere in the background was completely worth it (pictured).
A big thank you to Paul Pikel and the Bonsai Societies of Florida for putting on a well managed, fantastic display!
Update 5/17/22: Visited Epcot with the family to see how my tree was doing. It definitely needed a good trim but I was so happy to see it! We stayed until the park closed to see the fireworks show and I was lucky enough to capture a photo of my tree with the fireworks (pictured)! An emotional moment for me, I never imagined I'd one day have my bonsai on display at Epcot. A great day!