Community Outreach – NOBG Historic Train Garden


‘Tis the season to experience the magical Historic Train Garden in City Park.

Of the many beautiful theme gardens inside the New Orleans Botanical Garden, the Historic Train Garden (HTG) is clearly the most unique and popular, especially during Celebration in the Oaks. Designed and constructed in 2003 by acclaimed artisan Paul Busse, the Train Garden replicates the architecture and rail transportation that existed in the City in the 1930’s.  As immigrants settled in their new neighborhoods, each planted a piece of their homeland. creating an eclectic mix of garden shapes, sizes and plant materials.  


Over time, a series of floods (most notably Katrina in 2005), freezes (most recently in 2023) and now a severe drought have presented significant challenges.  But the HTG continues to thrive.




New Orleans by Rail map and narrative provides brief history of 

trains and streetcars at entrance to the garden.

Peggy Howard,

master gardener and project leader of Historic Train Garden, 

volunteers weekly with her team to maintain the entire site.


Since 2019 MGGNO volunteers, under the leadership of master gardener Peggy Howard, have helped maintain this nostalgic landscape.  Their initial task was to scale the plants to 1/30th of their normal sizes to match the size of the miniature trains and architecture. This was methodically achieved by pruning the mature-sized specimens by one foot annually. Today the garden is 1/30th scale to match the size of the miniature trains and buildings.  Plants are now approximately 18 inches to 24 inches tall.  Individual house plants are about 6 inches tall.


Master gardener volunteers maintain plants throughout the entire site, which includes the interior garden, surrounding beds along the walkway as well the outside (entrance) garden.  Plant materials are reminiscent of the period such as boxwood, azaleas, yaupon, and bottle brush.  Regular maintenance includes weeding, pruning, propagating and planting.  



In addition, master gardeners volunteer during the Spring Garden Show and the Fall Garden Festival to answer questions from visitors who enjoy the kids activities that take place in the HTG during these events.’




A 2021 drawing by Peggy Howard lists plant materials and
illustrates their placement throughout the HTG landscape.


Three perfectly scaled ‘Lemon Lime’ Ligustrum privets create a charming focal point between a rustic Cajun cottage and classic camelback.

Model Southern Pacific passing Garden District homes during Christmas.

Common Boxwoods are used throughout the HTG to
provide vertical structure and create shade canopies.  


Callistemon citrinus ‘Little John’ Dwarf Bottlebush illuminates

the garden throughout the summer with bright red fuzzy flowers on stem tips.

Visit the Historic Train Garden inside the New Orleans Botanical Garden Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. also on Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Peggy Howard, Master Gardener of Greater New Orleans, in collaboration with

Linda Wegmann, Master Gardener of Greater New Orleans




Sandy Pitre, Master Gardener of Greater New Orleans

Linda Wegmann, Master Gardener of Greater New Orleans



City Park Train Garden


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