by Marie Mercaldo Ingegneri
The Morris Arboretum’s popular Garden Railway, which returned the Friday before Thanksgiving, is open now as the Holiday Garden Railway display.
Visitors of all ages will be wow-ed by a quarter mile of track featuring seven loops and tunnels with 15 different rail lines and two cable cars, nine bridges (including a trestle bridge you can walk under), and bustling model trains, all set in the lovely winter garden of the Morris Arboretum.
The display and buildings are all made of natural materials — bark, leaves, twigs, hollow logs, mosses, acorns, dried flowers, seeds and stones — to form a perfectly proportioned miniature landscape complete with small streams.
Each building, while an exact replica of the original, is unique in its design. Philadelphia-area landmarks such as a masterpiece replica of Independence Hall are made using pinecone seeds for shingles, acorns as finials and twigs as downspouts.
The buildings are all meticulously decorated for the holidays with lights that twinkle along the tracks and around the surrounding landscape. The Garden Railway Display has become one of the Arboretum’s most beloved attractions since it opened in 1998, and the Holiday Garden Railway is quickly becoming a favorite holiday tradition for many families.
This year the Holiday Garden Railway will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through January 5 (closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day).
NEW this year is Friday Night Lights, where visitors can enjoy the Holiday Garden Railway at night from 4 to 7 p.m. on December 13, 20 and 27. This is a ticketed event. To purchase tickets via Ticket Leap, visit www.business-services.upenn.edu/arboretum/gardens_railway.shtml#fnl.
The Holiday Garden Railway is a great way to kick off the season and also serves as a fabulous backdrop for your holiday greeting card, so bring your camera when you visit. The Railway is free with regular garden admission (aside from Friday Night Lights): $16 adults, $14 seniors, students and youth (13-18) $7, children under age three and members free.
On December 7 at 2 p.m. catch more of the holiday spirit at Morris Arboretum with singers from the Penn Glee Club, who will treat visitors to holiday themed and seasonal songs, out in the winter garden.
Don’t forget The Shop at Morris Arboretum for wonderful holiday gifts this season. This shop specializes in environmentally friendly reuse of materials, and items inspired by nature. Gifts for children to engage and inspire young minds await you. And for the person on your list who has everything, give the gift of a Morris Arboretum membership, the gift that lasts all year long.
To learn more, call 215-247-5777 or visit www.morrisarboretum.org.
Marie Mercaldo Ingegneri is marketing coordinator at Morris Arboretum.