Gardenland Express in 2007

The Missouri Botanical Garden’s annual Gardenland Express holiday flower and train has returned to delight visitors of all ages with its animated G-scale model trains and hundreds of traditional holiday plants.

Experience this seasonal delight now through Tuesday, Jan. 1. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (closes early at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve; closed Christmas Day).

This year’s display celebrates “Merry Botanical Traditions” featuring beloved plants of the holiday season. The 5,000-square-foot Orthwein Floral Display Hall is transformed into a festive landscape surrounding a whimsical fairy tale cottage. Hundreds of blooming plants, decorations and the ever-popular model trains create the lively atmosphere.

Step into a world of holiday cheer while you listen to traditional Christmas music and stroll beneath larger-than-life silk works of art. To celebrate the success of the Chinese Lantern Festival: Art by Day, Magic by Night held this year at the Garden, the show will feature silk pieces of Euphorbia (poinsettia), Ilex (holly), Zygocactus (Christmas cactus) and more, crafted by the Lantern Festival artisans.

Eight G-scale LGB trains meander along 900 feet of elevated track, weaving under oversized toadstools, through tunnels and around flowers. Always a delight for children, adults and train enthusiasts, the trains add a measure of excitement to enhance the holiday exhibit.

This is the seventh year that the Missouri Botanical Garden’s floral display designer, Pat Scace, has created the Gardenland Express display.

“We are excited to present a show conveying feelings of cheer, whimsy and a playful spirit while also sharing insightful information about our favorite holiday plants,” said Scace. “Seeing the Gardenland Express display has become an anticipated holiday tradition among families. Each year we create a new theme while keeping the favorites everyone looks forward to — beautiful flowers and trains in motion!”

The six-week Gardenland Express show is painstakingly created from the ground up. Plans are designed up to a year or more in advance. In mid-October, horticulture staff and volunteers begin assembling the show.

Over 40 tons of aged sawdust are brought inside the display hall to form the base of the landscape. After being nursed for months in the comfortable conditions of a heated greenhouse, colorful poinsettias make their holiday debut.