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Displaying the Christmas spirit

Wilma and Ken Ferguson’s Christmas Garden brings out the magic of Christmas for young and old. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)

Christmas brings back memories of olden days when trains ran through snow-covered Victorian villages decorated for the holidays.

For 21 years Wilma and Ken Ferguson of Locust Hill have brought to life fanciful images of Christmas of long ago with their “Christmas Garden”—a place where time is frozen with pleasant memories.

Through their villages chugs a Harry Potter train with lighted passenger cars, its locomotive puffing smoke. Above is a deep blue sky with twinkling stars.

Mrs. Ferguson started her Christmas Garden when her six children were younger, by making and painting eight houses of plaster of Paris. Two decades later the display measures 20 by 18 feet.

There are between 380 and 400 structures, including houses of all styles, churches for every denomination, a newspaper office, a hospital, a doctor’s office, a cemetery, a courthouse, a jail (Alcatraz), and a police and fire department. Fluffy snow blankets the scenes. There’s also a “Coke” gas station from the 1930s.

A large farm with almost 1,000 pieces, including livestock, farm equipment and round hay bales is part of the display, which has 7,000 small pieces.

There are mountains with ski slopes, a merry-go-round, skating rinks, and an ocean that looks like ice. Many structures, such as the lighthouses, are replicas of famous buildings.

In 2007 Mrs. Ferguson added a Wal-Mart and a Home Depot to make the village even more authentic. The Dollar Store was added about 8 years ago. “I add to it every year,” she said. “A lot of people who find a small house or miniature people for the garden bring them to me.”

Houses and other structures have been placed on tiers above the main display. Placing the larger pieces on the bottom and smaller pieces at top give the garden artistic scale.

Mr. Ferguson helps with the setup, which starts in September. However, he then stands back and gives his wife artistic freedom.

“I try to lay it out a little different every year, and I try to add at least two new buildings every year,” said Mrs. Ferguson.

The Fergusons’ tradition is to unveil the Christmas Garden on Thanksgiving evening, and turn on all Christmas decoration lights inside and outside the house.

In addition to their six children, Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson also raised 11 more children, and today have 28 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren that marvel at the Christmas Garden—a display that brings back the child in everyone. 

posted 12.18.2008

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