Garden railroading, as we have come to know it today, is the art of approximating or suggesting a railway-like atmosphere and environment. This is done through creatively combining railway elementstrack, trains, and ancillary structures and accessoriesand natural elementsplants, stones, and earthworks. This must be done with skill, good judgement, and a practiced eye. As with any art form, the artist must be observant, innovative, and use sound aesthetic judgement.
One of the great joys of garden railroading is watching the railway and the garden change hour-by-hour, day-by-day, and month-by-month. As with most real things, it is a dynamic entity and is never the same from one moment to the next.
The difference between indoor and outdoor model railroading is the difference between realism and reality. The indoor modeler is concerned with realism, or the illusion of reality. He tries to create this illusion primarily through the use of artificial materialsplaster mountains, resin lakes, and a painted sky. The outdoor modeler is concerned with the reality of creating a small railway in the real environment. The garden railroader builds mountains of earth and stone, lakes of water, and the sky above is ever-changing.
However, the garden railroader must also be concerned with illusion or, at least, plausibility. The observer must be led to believe that the garden railway is a miniature world inhabited by tiny people. It is the pursuit of our own unique illusion that this book is about.
Covered here are some of the aesthetic elements to be considered when designing and building a garden railway. The thoughts within are admittedly opinionated, but you can pick and choose what you like to construct your own aesthetic system. This one is mine and I offer it for better or worse, for you to accept or reject as you see fit. If you gain nothing else from this book, just remember that a great deal of thought and planning is required for a garden railwaynot only for the mechanics of good running, but also for the railway to convey the pleasing and charming effect that only the best garden railways can.