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Trees for Farthing - Mark One


Mikkel

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Projects over the summer have included trees. The original inspiration came from the tree-lined perimeters of Reading’s Vastern Road and King’s Meadow goods yards.

 

 001.jpg.6457f48b7c3513e5bc1a66565a572798.jpg
Vastern Road yard, Reading, 1948. Source: Britain from above.

 

 

The trees here were quite close to the track along some sections. Earlier photos from the 1900s show larger trees, so they must have been a feature from at least the 1880s. 

 

002.jpg.90d688f36a5209a8f5f57a3e940a270b.jpg

Vastern Road yard, Reading, 1948. Source: Britain from above.

 

Apart from a bit of dabbling ages ago, this was my first real attempt at trees. It does show! But for what it's worth, here's a summary of how I did them. The basic armature was made from Treemendus 0.5 mm wire, cut to 150 mm lengths of which I used 45 per tree for my purposes. Similar wire can be obtained from florists.

 

003.jpg.e5becf5f1fe3f27fe0fd3e94d11ac60a.jpg

 

 

To form the trees, I used the method suggested by Treemendus, whereby one wire is twisted around others (rather than twisting all wires). This is certainly a quick method, but the outer wire does show.

 

IMG_20210406_092318686_HDR.jpg.8bc9e35e3a99a27c26d088904d465051.jpg

 

 

Treemendus recommend using masking tape in order to smooth out the trunk and main branches. This helps, but also adds to the thickness. Accordingly, I may use fewer wires per tree for the next batch.

 

IMG_20210416_074527896_HDR.jpg.e4c369c2e8761f5f96c50ce83a19752c.jpg

 

 

Once done, the armatures were coated in Treemendus bark powder. This can be sanded for a smoother look.
 

IMG_20210318_134100345_HDR.jpg.d01be7941906fac0215a6ee874ba2161.jpg

 


For the crown and foliage I diverted from the Treemendus approach and instead used Heki sea foam, each piece glued to the armature with superglue. The pods can be removed, but I didn’t bother as the foliage I used conceals it.

 

007.jpg.cc3b5c133c892194dc185a0ccb5183a8.jpg

 

 

The crown was sprayed with a few quick coats of light brown/grey. I used Liquitex, these are low-toxic water based spraypaint for artists.

 

IMG_20210323_131628005_HDR.jpg.716601c797ab5fe7a0a66b3146944d1b.jpg

 

 

Foliage was added using “coarse turf” from Woodlands scenic. This is the “burnt grass” shade.

 

009.jpg.2e096b4852f402c4a38f8d9aec8b94f7.jpg

 

 

The foliage was attached using Hob-e-Tac- glue, non-toxic and very sticky.

 

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The foliage sticks to the outer reaches of the seafoam, leaving a nice natural branch structure behind it. 

 

011.jpg.7b0144d3d02bc4c79fa19a8473cd04b7.jpg

 

 

A coat of Woodlands “scenic cement” was sprayed on to further stick things down. This darkens the foliage somewhat, so I only did one coat. 

 

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As these are planted urban trees, they needed to be fairly uniform yet individually different. It helped to build them alongside each other. 

 

013.jpg.192c30d5a9a12c6941e9e576f701d871.jpg

 

 

I found that it was possible to make up individual bits of sea-foam twigs and retro-fit them to the trees. That way, any areas that I was unhappy with could be improved.

 

014.jpg.7b4b019f3a82ebba2c2f9ece3e169891.jpg

 

 

The species is nominally London Plane-ish, although I admittedly concentrated more on just learning the techniques. I did try to indicate the mottled/patchy look of the bark with a paintbrush, but it doesn't show up well and needs more work.

 

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The original plan was to have 3-4 trees at the front of the layout.

 

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I liked the views beneath the canopy.

 

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And the shadow effect when the sun came in through our windows.

 

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But from a distance the layout seemed too “front loaded” and forbidding. Trying out various configurations I was struck by how the different positioning of trees can give very different impressions. E.g., compare these two photos:

 

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In the end I opted for the arrangement seen below. This gives me street trees but also an open view. It requires an extension of the layout at the back, featuring another road and - you'll be relieved to hear - a backscene. This is currently being built.

 

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It's all been an interesting exercise. I will probably keep this first batch of trees for the time being, but have started experimenting with alternative methods, including natural plants. More on that later.

 

Edited by Mikkel

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So nice to see a floral tribute to the layout which helps to add a more realistic overall scene.

 

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They look good to me Mikkel, gives a bit of height to it all and frames the scene well. 

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Mikkel

Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, bgman said:

So nice to see a floral tribute to the layout which helps to add a more realistic overall scene.

 

 

Thanks Graham, yes it's about time there was more greenery on Farthing. The challenge has always been that with small layouts like mine there isn't really room to show much of what goes on behind the railway boundary, so the green stuff has been very limited. This is an attempt to move a bit beyond that in a small-layout setting.

 

 

3 hours ago, Dave John said:

They look good to me Mikkel, gives a bit of height to it all and frames the scene well. 

 

Thanks Dave. It's been a bit of an eye opener for me to realize what strategically placed trees can do for a layout. Also when seen from above, where they break up what can otherwise seem a bit 2D.

 

I came across this during my searches. A layout opportunity with a difference, for the patient tree modeller! I believe Withington was GWR, ex-MSWJR?

 

image.png.bdbd3c6d936d0f78a032c83c1b2c7bb2.png

The H&G Thynne Tile Works, Withington, 1949. Source: Britain from Above.

 

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Withington 1949. Source: Britain from above.

 

Edited by Mikkel
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Mikkel,

Brilliant, and well done.  They do not look like a first attempt.

 

(Have I said this before?)  If they are London Plane you will have to clear up the sticky mess that forms underneath them.  :)

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1 hour ago, ChrisN said:

Mikkel,

Brilliant, and well done.  They do not look like a first attempt.

 

(Have I said this before?)  If they are London Plane you will have to clear up the sticky mess that forms underneath them.  :)

 

Many thanks Chris. I think the first attempts are particularly evident in the trunk and shapes of the branches, which are a bit too gnarly in places. And in the colouring, which was more tricky than I thought it would be.

 

The sticky mess - would that be the deposits from those on the way home from the pub? :)

 

 

40 minutes ago, Miss Prism said:

If they were London Plane they would probably be double that height.

 

 

Well, I tried to calculate that. A quote from the workbench thread:

 

"in 1880 the town planners of Farthing modernized the area's streets, sewers and lighting in response to the 1875 Public Health Act (thanks to flyingbadger for the info). In so doing they planted London plane, which have a quoted growth rate of 50-100 centimeters a year and a normal full grown height of 20-30 meters. Using the lower growth rate, the trees would have reached 10 meters in 1900, equivalent to 13 cms in 4mm scale, which is the height of the trees I'm currently building..."

 

The shape of the crown is a bit off though. Although I have found photos of London Plane looking like my trees here, they are commonly more elongated/oval.  The foliage should arguably also be less dense and lighter.

 

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In neither of those two Vastern Road shots can you see our first house in Reading - it's between the two. But unlike the goods yard, the trees, or some of them, are still there:

 

https://www.google.com/maps/@51.4615045,-0.9732008,3a,75y,90h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sQ1qtSldbLGTwm59FiFxX1Q!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

 

Here's the house - the end of the terrace - externally it hasn't changed much since we moved out 20 years ago, though we did make an attempt to keep the hedge within bounds:

 

https://www.google.com/maps/@51.4616282,-0.972462,3a,75y,90h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1slSA68JT3W3pYMns7oj153Q!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

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3 hours ago, Mikkel said:

I came across this during my searches. A layout opportunity with a difference, for the patient tree modeller! I believe Withington was GWR, ex-MSWJR?

 

 

That is a different Withington.  The one that you are showing here is on the GWR route between Hereford and Worcester.

 

Adrian 

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26 minutes ago, Mikkel said:

 

Many thanks Chris. I think the first attempts are particularly evident in the trunk and shapes of the branches, which are a bit too gnarly in places. And in the colouring, which was more tricky than I thought it would be.

 

The sticky mess - would that be the deposits from those on the way home from the pub? :)

 

 

The leaves ooze a sticky substance.  They were planted around the hospital I used to work at.  If you were lucky to get a parking space your windscreen was covered in sticky spots.  As my son said once, 'Parking under dodgy trees again.'  The hospital has gone, but some trees still remain.

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Fascinating photos of Withington. That must be an orchard, apples ? The tile works is impressive too, the courtyard design round the five kilns. 

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Mikkel

Posted (edited)

10 hours ago, Compound2632 said:

In neither of those two Vastern Road shots can you see our first house in Reading - it's between the two. But unlike the goods yard, the trees, or some of them, are still there:

 

https://www.google.com/maps/@51.4615045,-0.9732008,3a,75y,90h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sQ1qtSldbLGTwm59FiFxX1Q!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

 

Here's the house - the end of the terrace - externally it hasn't changed much since we moved out 20 years ago, though we did make an attempt to keep the hedge within bounds:

 

https://www.google.com/maps/@51.4616282,-0.972462,3a,75y,90h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1slSA68JT3W3pYMns7oj153Q!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

 

I remembered that you were local to the area, Stephen. Do you happen to recall what species the trees where? 

 

Here is a crop of the ca. 1905 photo of Vastern Rd. This is 40+ years prior to those heading this blog post. I'm assuming they are not the same, as they would have been much larger by then.

 

793454389_IMG_20210519_054622879_HDR(1).jpg.460ccdcf3e17b85ce11d93ff82be1c78.jpg

 

Apart from the trees alongside the Vastern Rd and King's Meadow yards, there were also trees alongside this Reading yard, the name of which evades me. It was on the other side of the mainline:

 

image.png.0da0c34cc7f0b54d41ff1a60168165d2.png

Reading 1920. Source: Britain from Above. See: https://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/en/image/EPW000873

 

Edited by Mikkel
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9 hours ago, ChrisN said:

The leaves ooze a sticky substance.  They were planted around the hospital I used to work at.  If you were lucky to get a parking space your windscreen was covered in sticky spots.  As my son said once, 'Parking under dodgy trees again.'  The hospital has gone, but some trees still remain.

 

Ah yes, I didn't it associate it with Plane trees in particular, but now that you mention it I have experienced it while parking under that species. We do have a few here, though the climate isn't ideal.

 

10 hours ago, figworthy said:

That is a different Withington.  The one that you are showing here is on the GWR route between Hereford and Worcester.

 

Adrian 

 

Thanks Adrian, that clears up my confusion. One is in Herefordshire, the other in Gloucestershire.

 

9 hours ago, Dave John said:

Fascinating photos of Withington. That must be an orchard, apples ? The tile works is impressive too, the courtyard design round the five kilns. 

 

Yes it would make for a spectacular layout.  They still seem to have orchards in Withington (Hereford): 

 

https://goo.gl/maps/h7HVkQesaEASgyf2A

 

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21 minutes ago, Mikkel said:

 

I remembered that you were local to the area, Stephen. Do you happen to recall what species the trees where? 

 

Here is a crop of the ca. 1905 photo of Vastern Rd. This is 40+ years prior to those heading this blog post. I'm assuming they are not the same, as they would have been much larger by then.

 

Apart from the trees alongside the Vastern Rd and King's Meadow yards, there were also trees alongside this Reading yard, the name of which evades me. It was on the other side of the mainline:

 

 

I'll have to consult with an expert...

 

That Vastern Road c. 1905 photo is very familiar - you may recall it was the reference for my GW opens with sheeted timber loads. I think these are the same trees but over the years they've been thinned out as the grew - something like every other tree removed in your 1940s photos and every other tree again by now (by late 1990s, in fact).

 

The second photo shows the South Eastern station. The prison is bottom left.

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Why is it called “Vastern” Road?

“Big rear-end Road”?

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I almost missed this.  Tree planting is my wife's expertise but North Leigh could do with an upgrade, so I shall show her your methods - they look very good :)

 

That first photo of Vastern Road looks almost like a model - the trees have a surprising regularity of shape.  For some reason, your first sunlit shot seems more like the Mediterranean than Southern England - something about the clarity of the light.

 

Some unusual wooden picture-frames in the background.

 

Mike

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4 hours ago, Regularity said:

“Big rear-end Road”?

 

That does pretty well describe Vastern Road's purpose in the scheme of Reading's "Inner Distribution Road" - a half-baked inner ring road scheme never completely seen through in the 60s/70s. Dual carriageway providing rear access to the railway station and avoiding the pedestrianised town centre.

 

But the name pre-dates that. I've not been able to find an explanation. Many Reading streets are named after prominent citizens from the 17th century, several of whom were regicides.

Edited by Compound2632
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15 hours ago, Compound2632 said:

i drive along that stretch of Vastern Road quite frequently so must pay more attention to the trees!  I'm usually concentrating on avoiding the bus lanes, having been caught on camera on the short stretch under the railway bridge  - a good revenue earner I suspect.

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Posted (edited)

9 hours ago, Compound2632 said:

The second photo shows the South Eastern station. The prison is bottom left.

 

I find Reading's railways incredibly interesting. All those lovely yards, the factory sidings, the signal works, and the Coley Branch to boot. 

 

1601420441_download(1).jpg.81b5907fd1312867d030d32b0a67e110.jpg

Reading 1948. Source: Britain from above.

 

 

8 hours ago, Regularity said:

Why is it called “Vastern” Road?

“Big rear-end Road”?

 

Only a very special mind would make that connection :D

 

 

7 hours ago, MikeOxon said:

I almost missed this.  Tree planting is my wife's expertise but North Leigh could do with an upgrade, so I shall show her your methods - they look very good :)

 

That first photo of Vastern Road looks almost like a model - the trees have a surprising regularity of shape.  For some reason, your first sunlit shot seems more like the Mediterranean than Southern England - something about the clarity of the light.

 

Some unusual wooden picture-frames in the background.

 

Mike

 

Hi Mike, thank you, it would be nice to see some trees on North Leigh. I'd be interested to hear what your wife thinks of the issue of tree shapes on model railways. Many species are tall and oblong, but that can look a bit odd and distracting on a layout, I find. So should we compress and adjust their shape to suit?

 

The picture frames are a motley assembly from various places and eras. Looks like they need a bit of adjustment!

 

Edited by Mikkel
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1 hour ago, Mikkel said:

Only a very special mind would make that connection

You would not be the first person to direct such a comment towards me…

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Posted (edited)

Consider it a gift.

 

Speaking of trees, I was just looking at Lydham Heath again - in your thread and the BRM archive - to have a closer look at the trees. The BRM archive search brought up both the 2007 and 2021 articles. I had not seen the former, where Barry mentions how he made the front row of conifers by shaping wood dowels for trunks, and then looping wire around them for branches. In the rows behind, the wire was replaced with horsehair for simplicity.  It may be described more in-depth in his scenic book, which is now - belatedly I suppose - approaching the top of my Must Buy book list.

 

How are the trees holding up? I see he used Woodlands Scenics materials for the foliage, and I have been wondering how much it pales over time.

 

 

Edited by Mikkel
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Hi Mikkel,

 

The trees are holding up just fine: after more than 30 years, they might look better - any fading has subdued the tones if anything.

 

Simon

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Here’s one taken by me at Warley in 2003, using a crappy 2Mp camera:

FCF3D281-0BA5-4D19-A1AC-0F9E9A782700.jpeg.45d9dd50ba353b956afd0742430e28d0.jpeg

And here’s one taken in Feb 2020 by one Andy York of this parish:

D5129DA8-4A4B-452C-BE33-90A35C1944AE.jpeg.65b3c5bc614312e351b628be51c3db42.jpeg

 

Hope that helps.

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Thanks Simon. The camera does make a difference! A good illustration of how a quality camera brings out the nuance in shaded areas - although I assume Andy has also directed the lighting with that in mind. 

 

The last shot usefully shows detailing of the bark texture in the front row of trees. Must try harder!

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The trees are superb. For the camouflage look for the bark, try experimenting by flicking on paint from an old toothbrush. With a bit of practice you should end up with the required colours in flecks of paint as opposed to trying to apply by brush. I will confess that I haven't had the opportunity to try this method myself but I have seem some exceptional results from a book on model tree making.

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Mikkel,

 

You will of course be adding a few bird nests won't you ! 

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