Incorporate plants into your garden railway

Western New York Garden Railway Keuther
Layout by Brad Keuther of West Seneca

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Last week, we introduced you to model railways for the garden. To see one in person, check out the exhibit by the Western New York Garden Railway Society at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo. The exhibit is running now through Jan. 2.

Today we’ll talk about the gardening aspects of the hobby.

When choosing plants for your garden railway, you want to look for ones that you can keep small to stay in scale with the trains, said Gary Tebo of West Seneca, secretary of the Western New York Garden Railway Society.

Western New York Garden Railway Robins
Layout by Bill Robins of Niagara Falls

Tebo started with lamium, which spreads and flowers all season. (The season for garden railways is spring and summer, and a bit into autumn. It’s difficult to run the trains once the leaves fall or the snow comes.)

He uses a lot of thyme, which has small leaves and fits in well.

Tebo also likes stonecrop because it grows in crevices and gets a pink flower.

Western New York Garden Railway Tebo
Layout by Gary Tebo of West Seneca

Sedum can grow upright or as a ground cover, and it comes in many sizes. In the photo at left, the sedum in the upper left looks treelike. Two varieties of hosta are also pictured.

While Gary does the gardening around the train layout, his wife Nancy does the gardening in the rest of the yard. The Tebos use evergreens inside and outside the layout, though they have to be careful which evergreens they choose because the deer that will eat them. They have one arborvitae, which somehow survived even though it’s a favorite of the deer.

Boxwood and pyracantha are two evergreens that the deer won’t bother. Tebo also has a honoki cypress, which stays small and has a nice branch formation, as well as a low-growing juniper.

Western New York Garden Railway Henderson
Layout by Jack Henderson of Grand Island

The members of the Western New York Garden Railway Society are happy to help anyone interested in the hobby.

The group, which organized in 2002, meets at Ebenezer United Church of Christ, 630 Main St., West Seneca. Meeting dates are on the society’s web site.

A video of garden railways is also available from the group.

The railway exhibit will run until Sunday, Jan. 2. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Botanical Gardens will close at noon on Christmas Eve and be closed Christmas Day.

Western New York Garden Railway Walton
Layout by Andy Walton, formerly of Elma

Admission is  $8 for adults,  $7 for seniors and students, $4 for children 3-12, and free for Botanical Gardens members and children under 3.

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2 Comments on “Incorporate plants into your garden railway

  1. I would like to use some of your photos and information on a sign to promote the garden train at the botanical gardens. The sign will appear near the guest book at our Rail Barons exhibit in the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.
    Behroo Khodadad
    Sr. Exhibit Designer/Preparator

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