remember getting my first train set on Christmas Morning and acting all
surprised after sneaking down stairs in the middle of the night and
playing with my new train. Santa Claus must of taken the time to set it
up under the Christmas Tree. Santa Claus must of known how good a little
boy I am! Like anyone who has caught the train bug I still love
playing with trains. The use of trains in the garden combines my love of
gardening and trains.
are some of my favourite shots of the Chicago Botanical Garden Train
Garden and the Trains
in a Miniature World at the Epcot Center Florida.
first plan the route. It is important to design a route that has
gentle curves and a relatively level grade. This may involve
cutting away soil building up a raised platform; cutting a
through a tree or a false tree or building a mountain that will obscure
the train from view. The Mountain is built to create mystery and
interest. It should contain
to the area that the theme train travels or maybe just to the area
in your gardening . In our area we would use Queenston Shale
or Limestone. Once you
have decided the route
take a garden hose and lay it out. This will allow you to visualize
your project. Remember that you want a level area for the station or
yards. In an existing
you can use the existing plants as a back drop to your miniature
world. This means that your train may have to follow the edge of
your turf grass area. Place the
in a weather protected area or in a garden shed. Remember to have
all electrical installation installed to local building codes and
safety regulations. It is always
good idea to mark, map and remember where the power lines are.
This I learned the hard way by cutting a gas barbeque line. The
transformer reduces the power so
you will not be able to electrocuted yourselves.
You may also be able to run
your trains in light rain or snow. Please be careful to maintain
electrical conductivity across the
in the tracks.
Careful soldering is important and the switch sections should be
jumper wire soldered so that it can be removed and replaced
steel or aluminum rails you must tin the ends of the jumper wires
and screw them with stainless steel screws to the rails.
should be done in several regular rail sections to allow for flex
in the rail line during use and weather expansion and contraction.
Proper ballasting is important to
stabilize your track. The usual material is 1/4 inch or less
crushed stone and stone dust mixture. It is placed under the track
1 to 2 inches deep and wider
your track. The ballast is tamped with a tamper or and old 4 x 4.
Use a level to ensure that the track is level. Use ballast to
correct any discrepancy in grading making sure that it is also
tamped down. Radio Controlled trains are the coolest. The volunteers
at the Chicago Botanical Train Garden show me how theirs worked.
is time to add the landscaping. The best plants are young or dwarf
plants. Many nurseries that grow their own plants on will have lots of
liners. You should also search out nurseries specializing in dwarf