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posted: 6/24/2013 3:13 PM

Lavish N. Barrington garden railroad open for benefit on June 29

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  • Train Lady Elaine Silets stands in one of her many layouts.

      Train Lady Elaine Silets stands in one of her many layouts.
    Courtesy of HUFF & PUFF INDUSTRIES

  • Multiple rail lines converge and diverge throughout her showcase layouts.

      Multiple rail lines converge and diverge throughout her showcase layouts.
    Courtesy of HUFF & PUFF INDUSTRIES

  • Some of the elaborate flora that is a hallmark of Silets' designs.

      Some of the elaborate flora that is a hallmark of Silets' designs.
    Courtesy of HUFF & PUFF INDUSTRIES

  • Silets has designed garden railroads around the world.

      Silets has designed garden railroads around the world.
    Courtesy of HUFF & PUFF INDUSTRIES

By Peter Timotijevic

Explore a North Barrington garden walk, enjoy a miniature railroad and help support a scholarship fund for Interlochen Center for the Arts.

Elaine Silets, aka "The Train Lady," is inviting visitors into her extensive private gardens from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at her estate, 125 Arrowhead Lane, North Barrington.

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Silets's late husband, Harvey, supported Interlochen's efforts throughout his professional career, and Elaine Silets and her three children all attended Interlochen. In 30 years, the scholarships have helped nearly 50 students.

Silets is an internationally known designer and manufacturer of model railroads and garden railways who says she was only 3 years old when she developed a fascination with trains.

"It's something I've always wanted to do," she says.

Her lavish private model railroad gardens include the Glorée & Tryumfant Garden Railway -- 6,000 square feet of waterfalls, streams, lakes, bridges, trestles, city and country vignettes, and a circus, replete with plant material and miniature trees of every description. The Garden Railroad operates 11 separate G-scale model trains.

The Gardens at Wandering Tree are gardens of different disciplines over 10 acres. They include The Shabui Garden Railway, a Japanese water and stream garden with its own little train traversing the falls; the 3-acre pond garden; the wild shade garden with its centerpiece Burr Oak; a walkway of 24 interwoven crabapple trees; an herbaceous perennial border; rose gardens; a pool garden; a sunken formal vegetable potager; pink dooryard gardens; and the special Snoopy topiary that belongs to Silets' three grandsons.

Silets also will open to the public The Harvey M. Silets Memorial O-scale Model Railroad Museum. Housed in an authentic replica of the famous Rico Train Station, it recreates the Chicago area with 16 trains, two trolleys, operating truck and car roadways, an operating drive-in movie theater, two elevated trains, two subway trains, two helixes, and 54 interactive automations.

A piano trio and a jazz trio will play live music throughout the day. Fiore Nursery and Landscape Supply will showcase many unique tree and plant specimens. Stillman Nature Center will have a booth that will feature a live Eastern Screech Owl.

"It is my honor and privilege to host the annual garden walk and model train display benefit which provides much needed scholarship aid to deserving and talented students who are studying all aspects of the arts at Interlochen," said Elaine Silets.

Admission is $10 and guests can enjoy food catered by Giordano's or bring their own. Raffle tickets also will be offered.

All proceeds from the one-day event will benefit the Harvey M. Silets Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to deserving young students in all arts disciplines to attend Interlochen Arts Camp in Interlochen, Mich.

To learn more about the fundraiser, visit or or

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