ADD PLANTS TO OUTDOOR LAYOUTS
BY DON HERZOG, MINIATURE PLANT KINGDOM
AND ALLEN TACY
EVERY OUTDOOR RAILROAD is built on dreams. Dreams of trains running across rivers, through woods, below mountain crags, beside rural villages and farms. Many of us have in mind certain "theme scenes" we want to create when we design our layouts and incorporating such scenes is a very important part of outdoor railroad planning. Without them a layout would seem sterile and unrealistic. In our series on plants and scenery we hope to bring you the key to creating the world of your imagination.
As important as planning layout scenes may be, we do not want to overemphasize advance planning. If you have no theme scene in mind, leave space for it and remember what such famous HO scale modelers as John Allen have done: They wait for inspiration. And it will come as your railroad progresses. You may be surprised at what you yourself may accomplish in even a very small space. Landscapes in Miniature by John Constable (it still may be available from Westlawn Locomotive Works) has been an excellent source of inspiration to us.
Virtually every modeler faces constraints of both means and space but if he adjusts his thinking to the size of his outdoor railroad he may imagine and eventually build rolling hills, forests, lakes, rivers, majestic trees, waterfalls, crags, green valleys, even deserts. Our series is about such things: Tiny violets, jasmine, willows, ash, birch, roses, and dark evergreen conifers comprisng a growing, living land of peace and beauty.
YOUR IMAGINATION IS THE LIMIT
You may create almost any railroad scenery you imagine: A farm with crops and animals. Or a dream house in the kind of countryside you like best; maybe the train will stop at a station next to a path winding to the house through a meadow; and possibly some beautiful old trees will shelter the house. Maybe your railroad serves a lakeside resort in a pine forest. Or perhaps it skirts a mountain with a bare rock face, surrounded by territory reflecting no other trace of the hand of man.
Even a very small area can contain such scenes. You may plan them, form them, and watch as they take shape. You may move a hill a hundred scale yards to the right or left until the landscape is exactly what you envision. Then you may plant rocks, trees, shrubs, flowers, and bushes. You may watch the scene clothe itself with green fields and trees. You will build it up, plant by plant, learning to appreciate each for its perfect miniature symmetry. And that symmetry will change and reflect each season of the year. You will see the first buds opening into perfect floral displays, the tiny berries that follow, autumn golds and russets, and finally the silver, gray, and brown silhouettes of winter. You will begin to imagine the kind of train that might run through such a country. You may then tailor your operations to the territory. You may eventually add fences and culverts and retaining walls and, as some actual agents did, foliage to the station grounds, bringing the building into greater harmony with its surroundings. Your layout will begin to assume a unique character, adding yet another dimension to your enjoyment of the hobby.
And you will find such creations possible because of the existence of miniature plants. For example trees of just the right size to grow into miniature forests or trees appearing to have spent years on a windswept mountain face. As you become more sensitive to the artistry of nature you may want to learn more. You may begin to look more closely at full-scale plants, rocks, and landscape and reflect your knowledge in the microcosm of your outdoor layout.
Virtually any space, no matter how small, is large enough to become an arrestingly beautiful miniature world. Even a loop of track around a Christmas tree has room for three entire scenes, utterly complete and rich in detail. We hope this series will encourage you to create and preserve such a natural, living environment. We will describe the plants, methods, and pleasures. All you will have to do is dream a little...and try them.