'Train Lady' opens gardens for Hands of Hope event
Elaine G. Silets, internationally renowned designer and the only female manufacturer in the U.S. of model railroads and garden railways, is affectionately known as "The Train Lady."
This weekend, she is opening her extensive, private North Barrington gardens at Wandering Tree Estate to the public from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17.
The event is to aid Hands of Hope, a charitable organization completely run by volunteers that benefits starving women and children in Africa and that has raised almost $10 million since it was founded less than two decades ago.
"I believe in the mission of Hands of Hope, which gives entire communities the sustainable tools they need to improve health and become economically self-sufficient," Silets said.
Hands of Hope's 17th annual "Barrington Country Garden & Antique Faire" opens three private estates to the public.
The Train Lady's "Gloree and Tryumfant" Garden Railway consists of more than 6,000 linear feet of railroad tracks, waterfalls, streams, lakes, bridges, trestles, city and country vignettes, as well as a circus, all replete with plant material and miniature trees of every description. The Garden Railroad operates 11 separate ½-inch G-Scale model trains.
The Gardens at Wandering Tree comprise 10 acres of unparalleled gardens of different disciplines, including: The "The Shabui Garden Railway," a Japanese water and stream garden with its own model train traversing the falls; the "Grove" wild shade garden; the Pleached Allée of 24 interwoven crabapple trees; an herbaceous perennial border with tropical trees; multiple rose gardens; a swimming pool garden; a sunken formal vegetable potager; and, the pink dooryard gardens.
Silets also will open to the public the private Harvey M. Silets Memorial O Scale Model Railroad Museum. She designed and built it for her late husband, Harvey M. Silets, an internationally recognized tax attorney and litigator.
Housed in an authentic replica of the famous Rico Train Station, this private model railroad museum recreates the greater metropolitan Chicago area and includes 16 train lines, two trolleys, operating truck and car roadways, an operating drive-in movie theater, two elevated trains, two subway trains, two helixes, and 64 interactive automations.
At the last estate on the tour, guests will be able to shop at the charming Farmhouse and historical Gentlemen's Stable for upscale one-of-a-kind antiques, uncover vintage treasures, unique pieces of furniture, accessories, designer purses and jewelry.
In addition, guests can attend home and garden workshops to gain inspiration from exclusively created vignettes. Gourmet lunch is available for purchase.
Event tickets are $55 up to June 16. To shop early from 8:30-10 a.m. Friday, tickets are available for $80.