The Train Lady is opening the doors of her private property tomorrow, June 23rd, to let the public view her amazing train garden railways and she has some exciting new highlights planned for this year. If you’ve never seen her gardens, you do not want to miss this awesome opportunity to experience something really special and only found right here in North Barrington. Train Lady, Elaine Silets, has been hosting tours of her property once a year since 1990, but this year she’ll be introducing us all to some very special guests.
Elaine designs model railroad gardens for a living and your jaw will drop when you see the garden scenes she’s created in her own back yard. It’s 10 luscious acres she calls Gardens at Wandering Tree.
One of many highlights is the Glorée & Tryumfant Garden Railway, complete with 6,000 square feet of waterfalls, streams, lakes, bridges, trestles, city and country scenes. And Elaine is raving about her roses this year, “I don’t know what happened to the roses, but I think they got hormones from this weather. They’re absolutely gorgeous!”
Her gardens are stunning, but one of my kids’ favorite features is Elaine’s train which carries children as passengers and circles around her drive. It’s called “Hogwarts Express” and tomorrow it’ll be the hottest ticket in town!
More details on her gardens in a minute, but first, here’s what’s new this year…
The Train Lady’s home is on a quiet residential street in North Barrington and parking can be tricky. So this year they’ve lined up a shuttle service. Shuttle buses will run between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. tomorrow from these three locations:
825 Rte 12 Parking Lot (Formerly Kmart)
(Corner of Rte 12 & Whitney Rd)
J.J. Twig’s Pizza & Pub North Parking Lot
(West Side of Rte 12 Opposite Golfview Rd)
Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital Doctors Building Parking Lot
(Entrance on Rte 22 Near the Corner of N. Kelsey Rd & Rte 22)
Nursery and Landscape Advice
Fiore Nursery and Landscape Supply, supplier of the largest selection of premium grade plant materials in Chicagoland, will showcase many unique trees and plants which will be available for purchase.
Eastern Screech Owl Booth
Stillman Nature Center, a not-for-profit center for environmental education, will have a booth where you can get up close and personal with owls. They’ll also answer questions about nature and wildlife
Train Safety Demonstrations
Representatives from Operation Lifesaver, a public education program, will be on hand offering demonstrations and tips about railroad safety.
What better place to learn about train safety than in the comfort of Elaine’s railway gardens!
On Elaine’s property, you will also see her three acre pond garden, wild shade garden, her allée of 24 crabapple trees, her grandsons’ special Snoopy topiary and The Shabui Garden Railway, a Japanese water and stream garden that runs across the way from the Glorée & Tryumfant.
Plus, Elaine will open her very own indoor Model Railroad Museum that she built for her husband, Harvey Silets, a popular and nationally known tax attorney who passed away in 2007.
The cost to tour the Train Lady’s property tomorrow is FREE FOR KIDS and $10 for adults. For the first time this year, Elaine will be donating all proceeds to support Harvey’s favorite charity and another one of her passions, the arts. She has created a brand new scholarship fund in Harvey’s name to send kids who couldn’t otherwise afford it to a fabulous and prestigious summer arts camp in Michigan. The camp is hosted at Interlochen Center for the Arts, founded in 1928 and located in northwest lower Michigan.
Interlochen hosts kids age 8 through college in their summer camp each year that features programs for young artists, musicians, actors and dancers along with archery, swimming, boating, sailing and other popular camp activities. Among the distinguished camp alumni are singers Norah Jones, Josh Groban and Rufus Wainwright. Elaine herself, who also plays cello and piano, first attended Interlochen summer camp at age 11. She says the experience is invaluable because campers themselves choose which of their peers perform in certain areas, like the orchestra.
“It is, in my opinion, the most democratic society that I’ve ever seen because it doesn’t matter if you’re white or black or pink or rich or poor. You come to Interlochen, you’re given a uniform and the teachers do not direct the ensemble, the kids do. Instead of what you have in terms of worldly goods, it teaches them that there’s a bigger and more important dimension to life and one of the best learned lessons is fairness and respect for your fellow players, actors or dancers.”
Be sure to look for Train Lady, Elaine Silets, in her gardens tomorrow. She’ll be there wearing her signature cowboy hat. You might also want to ask her about designing a railway garden for your own home. Landscape design is her passion and her day job, too. To contact the train lady, click HERE and to learn more about tomorrow’s tour, shuttle service, her gardens and her business, Huff & Puff Industries, visit TrainLady.com.