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All aboard! It’s Train Day at Maple Rock Gardens

The trains will be running at Maple Rock Gardens on Saturday. (Courtesy Maple Rock Gardens)

Whimsical railway comes to life at famous gardens

When Scott Paris bought Maple Rock Gardens, the unique Penryn property came with one especially whimsical feature: About 1,000 feet of miniature train tracks.

Miniature trains were a hobby of the gardens’ original owners, Frank and Ruby Andrews. Besides its famous formal gardens and working farm, Maple Rock Gardens boasts one of the largest garden railroads in Northern California.

The little rails wind through several of the terraced garden “rooms,” past forests of bonsai trees, around boulders and over meandering streams. The magic of this Lilliputian railway system really comes to life when trains are running. Saturday, Sept. 15, see them in action during “Train Day at Maple Rock Gardens.”

Presented by the Sacramento Valley Garden Railway Society, Train Day will feature live steam engines on the little track as well as its radio-controlled Maple Rock Railway special.

According to the railway society, the current aluminum track layout was built by Earl Martin. “The era is 1930s in California’s Gold Country and represents a small narrow gauge railway serving a gold mine, a logging operation, two visually separated small towns and a mountain lodge,” the society said in its Maple Rock snapshot.

Paris, owner of High Hand Nursery and Conservatory, made several improvements along the rail line to make viewing better and more comfortable for guests. That included adding 30 tons of rock and more dwarf landscaping. The railway is adjacent to picnic areas and overlooks Maple Rock’s massive lavender fields, orchards and farm crops.

Guests are invited to picnic on site as well as tour the rest of Maple Rock Gardens and enjoy live music while train watching. Food and drink will be available for purchase.

Wear comfortable shoes and stroll through the terraced property, considered among the finest private gardens in Northern California.

Train Day is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $10; children age 12 and under admitted free. Maple Rock Gardens is located at 100 Clark Tunnel Road, Penryn. Tickets are available online at .


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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