Monday, 19 October 2015

Building a Station Garden

Despite many New South Wales Government Railway stations looking bucolic and run-down during the final days prior to the rationalization of many country railway stations in the 1990's, there once was a time when railway stations would compete for the annual NSWGR Railway Garden Award competition. So in the spirit of past Station Masters who would take a great deal of pride in the presentation of their railway station surroundings, I set out to make Philden Railway Station an official entrant in the NSWGR Railway Garden Awards.

I started by detailing the granite boulders that will be a feature of my station garden.

Concentrating on the dead end of my station platform that ends hard up against a panel of mirrors, I got to work detailing the granite boulders that are to be a feature of my station platform using the same method I used in my post Detailing a Highway Overpass.

After adding some dirt and gravel ground cover, I carefully removed the Chux cloth protecting the background channel.

Once the rocks were complete, I covered the surrounding area with some dirt and gravel ground cover, using the same Chucks Ballast Karuah No 2 crusher dust and Woodlands Scenics B74 fine light grey ballast and T44 burnt grass flock, and method, that I explained in my previous post adding some ground cover.

Laying out the plants that will form the garden is a bit like planning a garden around your house.

Next up, I went to my box of tricks and pulled out some assorted Leadbear's Tufts, including some colourful flowers that I had bought especially for this project, two Trackside Trees willow trees that would become the garden's feature and some coloured bushes that I had bought from China on eBay.

I trimmed the round ball plants I had bought on eBay so that they had a flat base to glue to the ground.

Although the coloured bushes that arrived from China looked more like little round balls on a stick, with the bases cut off they easily pass as Chrysanthemums, Hydrangeas and red flowering Bottle-brushes. All are your typical low-budget plants that could easily be grown from cuttings at home, or purchased cheaply at a plant market by a Station Master who most often would plant and maintain the station's garden with his own time and money.

One of the most enjoyable moments so far of working on my model railway layout, planting the station garden.

Now the fun can begin. I live in a top-floor apartment that overlooks the beach in Caloundra, so it goes without saying that I occasionally miss the joy of gardening that I once had when we owned a house with a good sized backyard. So I viewed the gravel garden bed that surrounds the granite boulders alongside the down end of my platform as my chance to make up for this lost past-time. After drilling the holes where my willow trees would be planted and gluing the Chrysanthemums, Hydrangeas and red flowering Bottle-brushes in place, I got to work planting the clumps of Leadbear's flowers with a pair of tweezers.

The view of the back of the garden, showing patches of wild grass and weeds beyond the Station Master's reach.

Once I was satisfied with the amount of ground coverage along the platform side of the garden, I added patches of wild grass and weeds growing behind the granite boulders and finished by planting the two weeping willow trees.

The garden brightens up the station platform in an otherwise dry and dusty town.

When viewed from the platform side of the station, the garden which ends hard against the mirror on the dead-end of my layout appears twice the size. Not only does this help mask the fact that my track ends here, but it also saved me half the cost on materials. I left a gravel path opening between the yellow Chrysanthemum and the purple Hydrangea that will lead to the steps of my overhead pedestrian walkway that when finished will frame the mirror panel.

And the final view, looking across the tracks from the Goods Shed platform.

With the garden now in place, I can next turn my attention to either building the overhead pedestrian walkway, or continuing a bit further with my railway station building. Then again, there's also the station nameboard, platform fencing, benches, lights and a vending machine to add. But as usual, that's a story for another day. For now I might just have to be content with filling out the entry form for the NSWGR Railway Garden Award, and hope that Philden gets some recognition.

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Thanks for taking the time to visit Philden. I hope you'll book a return ticket soon. Cheers, Phil