Sticks and Stones

by Amanda

A replica of the outside of the Botanical Gardens

Last week I took advantage of my day off for MLK Day and headed up to the Bronx for the last day of the Holiday Train Show at the Botanical Gardens. The weather was freezing and spending the day surrounded by tropical temperatures and gorgeous plant life could not have been a better call. However, escaping the cold was merely an added bonus to experiencing the beauty of the nature-based reproductions of historic New York Buildings and landmarks.

“Barbara Karst” – Some of my favorite flowers in the garden

My friend Caitlin and I cheated a little by going through the gardens backwards and saving the exhibition for last. The New York Botanical Gardens just celebrated their 120th anniversary this past year and have come to house over 1 MILLION plants. I loved seeing the pretty colors of one of the world’s largest collections of flora, and quickly forgot it was January in New York. We got to climb the layers of the rainforest and wander through the desert all in one afternoon, which triggered much discussion about where our next vacations would be. Somewhere tropical, perhaps?

New York’s symbolic bridges

After lots of lingering, we finally left the humidity to check out the yearly Holiday Train Show, which features the masterful creations of artist Paul Busse. Busse is known for creating miniature replicas of architectural monuments using exclusively botanic materials. For this particular exhibition, Busse used pieces like twigs, leaves, fallen berries, fungus, bark and stones.

No explanation needed…

With this post, I was a little torn about what to write about. I could talk about Busse’s other work, or I could give a little history of each structure I’m covering. Instead, I decided to let the pictures speak for themselves on this one. These structures were incredible. I was simply amazed by the intricacies  of each one. After further reading I learned that it can take a team up to 40 hours to build a smaller structure, and a whopping 1,000 hours on larger, more detailed pieces. I know I certainly do not have that kind of patience…

“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair.” – George Washington

The work of Paul Busse made its debut at the holiday train show in 1992 and has been a family holiday hotspot ever since. The trains were running constantly in and out of the different structures, and I loved hearing the shrieks of glee from the children around me every time one appeared.

Saks Fifth Avenue

Narrowing down the photos to include in this post was quite difficult (I took over 100), let alone trying to choose a favorite structure. I decided to share the structures that are the most special to me, personally.

  • The Washington Arch is close to my apartment, and I have spent many a summer day curled up with a book or watching street performers in Washington Square Park.
  • As one of the most symbolic New York Buildings, the Chrysler Building always reminds me of the first time I flew to New York and the flutter of excitement I felt when I saw it.
  • Finally, I would be a trader to my profession if I didn’t include Saks Fifth Avenue! Not only is it a fashionista favorite, but the botanical replica is absolutely stunning.



Candid (thank you, Caitlin). Me enjoying the flowers.

Information retrieved from:

January 2012