While cleaning up a work bench yesterday, I came across a package of HO scale Blue Jays offered by Manfred Lesser at ML Designs. I thought they’d make great additions to the bushes I added to the Lynn Valley earlier this week.
These weeds are Silflor products (white “Baby’s Breath” and purple “Heather”) that I picked up from Scenic Express. The directions call for poking a hole in the scenery but I trim the plants to size, dip their toes in a small puddle of full-strength Weld Bond, and set in place with tweezers. The static grass provides plenty of support while the glue dries (and the glue dries clear). I find this approach is faster but also makes it easier to be random when placing each plant. Randomness is key to creating a meadow, versus a garden. I like how this area is shaping up and the plants look great, even in close-ups:
(Sharp-eyed readers will note that the Blue House is back on Chestnut Street – along with a mockup for another structure. More on that in a future post…)
Following my post earlier this week on adding weeds and bushes to the coal track, I had a wonderful phone call from my friend Bill Kerr. He really likes what I’m doing with the scenery (which is very high praise since he does brilliant work in this regard). He did, however, offer a couple of good suggestions, which I acted upon.
Bill noted that 50-60 years of coal dust around the bin itself would’ve killed a lot of vegetation, including all but the heartiest of weeds. Makes sense to me. So, I did some transplanting last night.
I think it looks a lot better for a couple of reasons. First, it looks less like the coal dealer is planting a garden around his bin. And second, it makes the coal bin stand out more from the rest of the scenery along this track.
Thanks Bill – great feedback!
Today is a holiday where I live. Its official title is “Family Day”, but I prefer to think of it as “It’s bloody cold outside, let’s have a holiday Day”. And true to its word, it’s cold – and therefore a perfect day to spend in the room next to the furnace.
That’s the layout room, of course.
I started by organizing my scenery supplies, which have drifted into chaos of late. Grass supplies in several spots – same thing with ballasts and other ground cover materials, tree and shrub materials, and scenic details.
It didn’t take long to get things in order – and realize that the best place for all of this scenery material is on the layout. After all, that’s why I bought it!
So (as the title of this post suggests) I spent a couple of hours planting weeds and bushes. I decided to focus on the area around the elevated Coal Track in Port Rowan, since I’ve never really liked the look of the grass on the elevated track.
Not too inspiring, is it!
I used various weeds from Silflor, plus Super Tree material, to add life and character to the scene. The weeds and bushes are pretty heavy, suggesting that the nobody’s really bothering to look after the spur now that traffic has almost completely dried up. That said, the railway crews have worn a footpath into the slope as a shortcut between coal bin and yard throat:
(Truth be told, there’s more weed and bush on my model of the coal track than is apparent on photos of the prototype. The prototype is mostly covered in long grass. That said, the prototype also doesn’t have to deal with a backdrop that’s just a few inches behind the scene, whereas I do. So, I’m exercising the First Rule of Model Railroading: It’s My Layout.)
In doing this planting, I kept two things in mind. First, I regularly checked my work looking from the base of the Port Rowan peninsula to make sure my plantings were not going to interfere with the passage of locomotives or rolling stock:
Second, I wanted to add more clumps of brighter colours in front of the Coal Track, and use muted colours further back, ending with a line of dull green shrubs against the back edge of the layout to soften the transition to the backdrop. This would draw the eye away from the backdrop and into the centre of the scene:
I have a lot more scenery material, and I plan to add more weeds and bushes to the meadow between yard and fascia (although not as thick as I did on the coal track, since people will be reaching over the meadow frequently during an operating session). But that’s for another day. For now, I think today’s work turned out quite well!
Yesterday’s work with the static grass applicator also involved improving the right-of-way in St. Williams.
I started by adding grass along the edges of the right of way – outside the rails. When this was dry, I went back and carefully added glue between the ties, between the rails, and added grass here, too. I also sprinkled on green ground foam. I then went away, let everything dry, and vacuumed up the excess scenic materials. The result is track that’s part of the landscape, rather than sitting on top of it.
As can be seen, the grass really encroaches on the right of way, suggesting that maintenance is being deferred as the railway awaits permission to abandon the line.
With careful application, the grass poses no problem to locomotives or rolling stock.
As previously mentioned, I hauled out the static grass applicator yesterday and worked on the track between staging and the water tank in the Lynn Valley.
I’m pleased with how this conveys the impression of a branch line at the end of its life, when right-of-way maintenance is being kept at a minimum.
Just a quick update…
I slipped out to the hobby shop today and picked up some really nice corn stalks. They’re HO scale, by JTT (a division of Model Rectifier Corp), and they work great for S scale. I planted these in St. Williams and will post more on this, including photos, tomorrow.
Before heading out, I did some work on the layout with the static grass applicator – adding grass to the right of way from the water tank, through the Lynn Valley and St. Williams, to staging. It looks a lot better – more in keeping with my end-of-life branch line.
Tomorrow, when the glue is set, I’ll give the grass a good vacuuming to make sure everything’s standing up properly and remove any grass that didn’t stick. Then I’ll do some testing, to make sure trains can negoitate the grass: I’ll probably have to thin some of the thick patches between the rails. When everything is as it should be, I’ll post an update – with photos, of course!
It’s been a few days since my last blog updates, but that’s because I’ve been so busy doing things on the layout that I haven’t had time to write about them.
Next, I’ll airbrush the rails, then apply grass along the right of way itself to blend the ballast into the adjacent terrain. And a sharp eye will note I have not yet paved the road by the St. Williams depot, so that’s on the to-do list as well:
(That’s a job for another day, but I’ve added “S scale plastic figures suitable for chopping to fit vehicles” to my shopping list.)
There are a ton of details to add to the scenery – saplings and bushes for the meadow areas, more crop rows and tobacco fields for the farms. And trees, of course: Lots of trees. Plus, of course, structures.
But there’s very little bare foam and plywood left on the layout – just a bit around the buildings near the end of Port Rowan. And that’s a great feeling!
(As an aside, I’m warming to the idea of adding the house at St. Williams, about which I’ve written elsewhere on this blog. It makes even more sense now that I’ve defined the fields.)
What on earth did we do before miniNatur?
For those who have been living under a zip-textured rock, miniNatur is a German brand of wonderful scenery materials – such as the late summer crop rows that I’ve planted in one of the fields at St. Williams:
For this field, I used three packages of Late Summer Soy Beans & Potato Rows, which I purchased at a local hobby shop. (Scenic Express sells them online, here.) I did my best to line up them in neat rows across uneven ground – and this is a case where the photographs do not do the product justice. The field looks even better in person. I’ll be buying more.
I’ve been working on scenery in the Lynn Valley this week, which required me to finish the trestle. It’s been installed for a while, but I never got around to adding the abutments.
I still need to detail the river but pretty soon, my swans will have some water.
Below is an overview of the scene. I still need to add broadleaf trees to this area, using techniques from Gordon Gravett’s excellent book, Modelling Trees. The conifers – from my friend Dave Burroughs at MountainView Depot – will get repositioned as I do this.