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"Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, waterbugs, tadpoles, frogs & turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, hickory nuts, trees to climb, animals to pet, hayfields, pine cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets – and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education." -Luther Burbank 1849 - 1926
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Garden railroading - great gift for retires, men and train hobbyists

Men and women tend to garden differently...ever noticed that? Nowhere was that more evident to me than how my own mother and father gardened. Their different styles eventually led them to tending separate gardens :-)

But here is an idea that just might bring the whole family together in the gardening projects that merge marigolds with mechanics :-)

What is so diverse? Garden railroading. I've been fascinated by this growing hobby since I discovered it a few years back. I even went to a show in which a local club installed a massive layout for the attendees to drool over...and yes, I had to wipe a dribble or two away!

Garden Railroading Gets Father's Day Gift Giving Back on Track -- This Father's Day give dad a gift that will get him off the couch, back on track and into the garden - with the whole family as his crew.

Combining two of the hottest hobbies -- gardening and model trains -- garden railroading is the fastest-growing family hobby in North America, according to the Garden Train Association. (http://www.gardentrains.org)

"This is a fun hobby that gets the whole family hooked," says Randy Kennie, president of the association. "People love it. It's grown-up play time but outside in the fresh air and sunshine."

Garden railroads, similar to what Dad played with as a kid, are large G-scale model trains about 5 inches high and 25 inches long, but instead of running inside, the trains wind through backyard forests of dwarf conifers, over little man-made streams or around miniature mountain ranges.

The hobby began in Europe decades ago, but it recently caught fire in this country. The Garden Trains Association says there are about 38,000 garden train enthusiasts and some 1,000 garden train clubs in North America.

All aboard for about $200

It's easy to get started. All you need is a space about five feet square and about 4-feet of track. For as little as $200, you can have Dad up and running in a weekend.

"Most people get into gardening on a small scale and build over time. It's more fun when the set develops over the years," notes Kennie.

Come on, baby, do the locomotion

If you think garden trains aren't something dad would enjoy, consider that the hobby attracts men in their mid 50's. With an estimated 50 per cent of the enthusiasts women, garden trains are a great outdoor activity for dad, mom and the whole family.

Current trends point to young families crossing over generations,with the whole family involved in making decisions.

Build up a head of steam

It's best to know a little bit about garden trains before getting started. There are annual outdoor train shows, conventions and displays across the country, the biggest being the Garden Railway Convention in Cincinnati.

For a list of events in your area, visit www.gardenrailways.com.

Visiting the Garden Trains Association web site at www.gardentrains.org can provide a wealth of getting-started type information.

This Father's Day Dad is sure to have some real fun creating his own tiny world - with the whole family pitching in.

ENJOY

Sometimes several hobbies can be combined to create an uplifting passions that passes the joy on to others as well.

LEARN

Gardening offers endless learning opportunities.

MAKE A CHOICE

Indoors or outdoors, that is the questions.

MAKE A CHANGE

What WILL you do today to move toward your goal? Even one small action today makes a difference. And you can add a little tomorrow and the next day... Together we will restore our environment in our community and around the world.

For more articles about ENJOYING NATURE

Botanical Garden Links
California Poppy Reserve
The Botanical Garden and Montreal Insectarium
America's Ecosystems
California Poppy Reserve
California Agritourism