I am about as far from a horticulturalist as one can get, my own green space outside my home is more of a nature reserve and home to local wildlife than a garden! The nearest I get to green fingers is when the Woodland Scenics scatter material has stuck to my fingers. This post is an attempt to describe how I undertook some of the flora on Fisherton Sarum, although perhaps the photographs speak more than the actual words. Specific flora, especially when flowering, of course will vary depending on the time of year and as with many layouts I have set Fisherton Sarum somewhere between the spring and the end of summer so it is possible that certain plants should not be in flower together, but hey if I can model a time period of 1946 to 1949, a few months here and there flora wise are not really going to matter. As with most areas of modelling whether it is rolling stock, buildings or scenery referring to the real thing is always the best starting point.
Firstly; Embankments, railway embankments are rarely just green grass and certainly never all of the same colour and height. If you look at many roadside verges and embankments the longer grass can be in excess of 3 to 4 foot tall. I have attempted to include a variety of colours and textures accordingly. Once the general form of the embankment was made using Modroc plaster bandage over a lattice card former that painted brown I glued, using PVA, teddy bear fur (no actual teddy bear was harmed during the making of Fisherton Sarum) fur side down with the backing uppermost. Once the glued dried I cut / tore / trimmed the backing off leaving random lengths of the fur sticking up to represent the yellowed / dried longer grass. I then added different textures and colours of other grasses / ground cover plants using a mix of grades and colour tones of Woodlands Scenics ‘Grass’ and ‘turf’ scatter materials.
An alternative to the teddy bear fur these days would be to build up layers of ‘static grass’ (but please go for the more yellow colours rather than the bright greens) to give variations in height before adding the other textures which are still required as I feel that static grass alone is too uniform in texture. There are various applicators and static grasses on the market such as the applicator and grasses that I now use from War World Scenics.
Once I was happy with the overall effect of the embankment flora I turned my attention to adding a few more specific plants specific plants.
I made Foxgloves simply from individual strands of sisal string dipped in PVA glue then fine green scatter material, followed by some fine purple scatter material to represent the flowers.
Lady’s bedstraw is the commonly seen yellow plant on verges and embankments was planted in clumps, I cheated here and used readymade and coloured plants from the MiniNatur range that is available from a number of UK retailers.
For brambles I used rubberised horsehair teased out dipped in PVA glue followed by once again fine green scatter material. As a material it has been around longer than I can remember and was often used as the basis for hedges etc., but I still think it makes the best brambles.
Finally; Trees, I made these using wire armatures that I then covered in Woodlands Scenics foliage teases out over the branches, although I have left one tree devoid of foliage to represent an unfortunately dead tree. I used this method for all the trees on Fisherton Sarum as they were all generally individual trees, for denser wooded areas then less complicated armatures can be used or alternatives such as sea moss, or actual twigs etc.as the basis for the application of the foliage materials.
Pretty basic stuff really but there are few things to note with trees (take a look at the real things when you are next away from your computer screen reading this): a) the bark is rarely brown and is usually more of a grey colour, especially so when viewed from a distance, b) the shape of the tree and density of the foliage does of vary between species and c) a lot of trees are quite tall and mature trees are more often than not taller than houses.
I have tried even with a relatively small number of trees to include a variety of shapes and sizes and careful positioning so give the trees the prominence they deserve.
As flora and fauna is usually associated together I have not forgotten the various fauna that is also on Fisherton Sarum and will be the subject of a future post.