Sunday, 15 November 2015

Adding the right trees


Trees are one of the most visible ways of defining what area we are attempting to depict on our model railway. Just as you wouldn't plant palm trees in the British countryside, you can't place tall California Redwoods in the Australian Outback. Adding the right trees becomes so much more important than simply plonking down something that makes your scenery look green. Not being an expert at modelling trees, I had two large knotted gum trees custom made for me by fellow modeller Anthony Symes who sells his signature gum trees through his eBay store.

These custom-made trees came with wire stems to hold the weight. I drilled a hole and glued it into position.

Modelling a fictitious semi-outback location in Australia, (I still haven't decided if it is south-western or north-western New South Wales), called for some large signature gum trees to be added beside the dusty-red station parking lot. Despite existing in a semi-arid landscape, many railway stations in New South Wales stood as an oasis on an otherwise flat and barren landscape thanks to having some drought-hardy trees planted alongside the platform or parking lot to provide some shade. Over the passing decades, these gum trees withstood bush fires, floods and lightning strikes, in some cases outlasting the very station buildings they were planted beside.

I then planted some grass tufts around the knotted base of the gum tree to disguise any gaps.

Australian Ghost Gums, or Eucalyptus papuana var. aparrerinja as it is known by botanists, is a white-cream, smooth-barked hardwood variety that grows to 20 metres tall, often in amazingly twisted varieties. These trees are often found growing in arid rocky earth, red sand flats and dry creek beds, making them hardy survivors and perfect specimens for the dusty red, semi-outback town of Philden. The weight of Anthony's large gum trees require a wire stem to be placed into a hole drilled into the layout base when gluing them into position to help hold them up. When the glue had dried, I filled any gaps between the knotted tree base and the ground using the same technique I outlined in my previous post Adding some ground cover, and landscaped the surrounding area. For added effect, I also installed another two light poles along the car park approach to the platform. At night they will cast an eerie light upon the pale twisted trunks and give true meaning to the words Ghost Gum.

The finished result transforms the dusty-red parking lot beside the railway station.

Apart from choosing the right trees to complement your layout, placing them in the correct position is just as important. Not only do they need to be planted in a logical spot, but they also need to be positioned so as to not obstruct key elements of your layout or make it inconvenient when operating your trains. When positioned just right, the right tree in the right place should make a perfect frame for photographing your model trains beneath.

When planted in the right position, trees should still provide plenty of unobstructed photo angles.

The end result from what was a simple project, totally transformed the appearance of my layout. I now have two Australian Ghost Gums framing the passenger set down area in the dusty parking lot. All I need now is to wire up the lighting and sit back to admire the 'ghostly' qualities of these iconic Australian trees. But that's a story for another day.


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