One of my favorite places to go each December is Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati. There, Paul Busse and his crew of creators–that now include his grown son Brian, fashion a train display of wonder each holiday season. Like Santa and his elves who make appearances in several places at the same time, Busse is also responsible for the fanciful holiday garden train displays at New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and the United States Botanical Garden in Washington, D.C.
And, if you happen to be in Columbus, Ohio, pop into Franklin Park Conservatory or the main branch of the public library where you’ll find Busse’s garden trains. Each display is unique to the others. The Huntington Holiday Train at the library loops through a winter scene reminiscent of Bernkastel and Rottenberg, Germany. Complete with a castle, waterfall, and buildings that match these two towns’ landmarks, this display has been part of Columbus’ holiday traditions for more than a decade.
First housed at the Huntington Bank downtown, it’s now at the main library where the display is more accessible to the public.
As a person who has followed Paul Busse’s work for years, I always anticipate being dazzled. Each display reflects the city where it’s located, thus at Krohn Conservatory, Cincinnati’s beloved buildings are set among twinkling lights, poinsettias and other seasonal blooms.
There’s a replica of Krohn Conservatory, Union Terminal, and the Music Hall, for example, as well as train trestles and bridges that evoke Cincinnati’s cityscape. There’s even an incline. Even though Cincinnati’s incline trolley car no longer exists, Busse keeps its memory alive every December.
Visitors to New York City Botanical Garden and the United States Botanical Garden can enjoy those cities’ attractions in miniature. Along with discovering which buildings are which, figuring out how each was made is pure pleasure.
For Busse, nature is his palate. Seeds, seed pods, leaves, bark, gourds, moss and nuts are changed into building parts and adornment. In addition to the buildings, Busse designs the trains pathways to ensure visitors are enchanted by the movement of the trains as they wind through each garden.
If you aren’t able to see one of Busse’s displays this season, there’s always next year. Plus, Busse’s garden trains are frequent features at the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia, the Chicago Botanical Garden and elsewhere.
For more information about Paul Busse and his company Applied Imagination, check out the Applied Imagination website.
Post courtesy of Jamie Rhein, member of Midwest Travel Writers Association
Cincinnati pictures, courtesy of Jamie Rhein; the other photos courtesy of Applied Imagination