Friday, January 15, 2016

Planting Trees

Three Iconic Southern California trees; Palm, Eucalyptus and Citrus and modeling any one of these presents a challenge even for the most seasoned micro botanist.  I've been to a lot of layouts and you see some amazing ground work, structures and working signals, but the trees seem like an afterthought.  I propose that they need as much attention and forethought as any industry might require...maybe more.

I've posted before about fabricating Palms and thanks to having a Laser at my side, making them is more an issue of finishing ground work and structures to figure out how many and what size I will need.  I've made a few dozen, some given away to John Signor and Bruce Petty, others stashed away in the magic closet of  "not finished yet" projects.

Eucalyptus trees are very distinctive and will require a good long weekend to figure out the best way to represent the twisted branches, multi colored bark and unique canopy's.  But that headache is for another day.

Orange trees are pretty straight forward.  These are revenue producing and as such are taken very good care of.  You can't approach it like you were doing the edge of a forest, chaos will not work here.  I built a small layout in N scale several years ago and needed a small orchard on one end of it and found wood beads at the local craft house that seemed to be the right size.  I followed the technique that I will outline in this post and within a short afternoon, had more Orange trees then I needed.  They came in handy as trades a few months later.  :)

In HO scale I found your run of the mill Ping Pong balls seem to have the right size for a medium growth orchard.  They are inexpensive and easy to get, plus they are light.  Below is a shot of the materials needed to pull this off.

Here's the list:

Ping Pong Balls
Grey Primer
Gloss Hunter Green Spray Paint
Medium Green course turf
Woodland Scenics Oranges
2" Dry Wall Screws and a couple boards to drive them through
Super 77 Spray Adhesive
Clear Acrylic Flat Spray Paint
Short length medium green static grass and applicator.
Optional.  Practice Tee's and brown spray paint if you want to have some sort of root system.

So this is what we are looking for when we are done.  I've only had time to finish a few of these to this state, but you will get the idea.  I attache these right to the ground with white glue...if you are industrious you can attach pins or screws to affix them too.

The following photo's show the process.  Briefly, you drive the screws through some flat wood to make spray posts.  Drill small holes in the bottom of the ping pong balls and screw them in place.  I made up 4 sticks to keep things flowing.  Be sure to wear gloves and work outside if you will get real stinky, real quick.  Once the balls are on the screws, give them a good coat of Hunter Green.  Working with one stick at a time, respray with another coat of paint and then sprinkle the green turf on all sides. If you paint is wet you will find the turf holds just fine.  I usually give it another coat of green and re-sprinkle to give the tree a bit more mass.  Next I give the trees a dusting coat of Super 77 and add the Oranges.  Set aside and work on the other sticks you have.  By the time you get back to it things have begun to set up.  I give the trees a coat of clear flat spray making sure to dust it at first.  The orange coloring on the scale fruit is water base and will run if they are flooded with paint or water.  A dusting coat keeps the colors intact.  When this is done I give it one more light coat of Super 77 and then using the Static Grass applicator add a little material to fluff things up a bit.  You don't need the applicator to do this frankly, I put it in a large shaker and sprinkled it over the trees and got the same results.  Next, set aside and let dry...usually a day or so before applying them.
Once your set up, these go really quickly.  I think I did 50 trees in two hours to this point.  They still require the last step, the static grass, but you get the idea.  At this point I spritzed on a little Super 77 and filled in holes and gaps where necessary.  These are pretty bright at the moment, once the static grass is applied, they will darken up a bit.

Here are some placed for spacing on the "production" end of my layout.  This weekend I hope to get the static grass on these and then plant them for good.  I also need to change the sign on my re-purposed Yard Master's office.  I scratch built this last year and I think this will work better near the grove actually.


1 comment:

  1. Nice tree clinic. I will post a link to this on my Yahoo Citrus Industry Modeling Group at
    Bob Chaparro
    Hemet, CA