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Display of Washington DC in Miniature Drawing Crowds


At the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington D.C. a display of toy trains and the Washington Mall in miniature, is turning heads.

Allow your imagination to fly. This is the fantasy version of Washington's Mall. It is all in miniature and all made with natural plant materials. Holly Shimizu is the executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden.

"We hired a man who specializes in trains and also in buildings made of natural material,” she told us. “Everything he makes is from materials that he collects in the woods and so we have acorns and leaves and tendrils from grape vines.”

The Capitol building is the highlight of the exhibit. Six men worked on it for five months. The materials include oak wood, pinecones and many kinds of leaves.

“The Statue of Freedom on the top is made from cornhusks, you can also see some of the architectural details are done with the tendrils of the grapevine,” she added.

But the trains and the bridges built for the exhibit capture everyone’s imagination.

“I think we have four different trains running and yes, we say it’s for the children, but it’s not altogether true because everybody loves it. And the trains add movement and add surprise and so they bring some degree of excitement and thrill and they make it a much more multi-sensory experience, which is really important.”

The miniature versions of the Smithsonian Castle, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial -- complete with the Reflecting Pool -- are great attractions. But the Jefferson Memorial received special care.

“Thomas Jefferson was one of the people we like to celebrate because Thomas Jefferson was a great gardener. And he created gardens not only at his home in Virginia and in Monticello but even here at the Botanic Garden,” Ms. Shimizu said. “I think one of the exciting parts of it is that the top dome is made from a gourd.”

About 800 people visit the exhibit every day, but the number is expected to increase during the holidays.

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