The best material for modeling trees that look like trees is natural vegetation… nothing beats it. For years I’ve used various kinds of natural materials from the yard, my wife’s gardens, and fields near my house. One of the easiest pieces of vegetation to use is a bloom from the Oak Leaf Hydrangea. Note that this is not just any hydrangea – it’s the Oak Leaf variety. Here is what the bush looks like.
And here is what the natural bloom looks like, fresh from the bush. But before this can become a great scale tree for your model railroad layout, we’ve got some work to do!
Preparing the Bloom
First you have to remove the remaining leaves from the bloom. Be careful as you do this; don’t pull off the little green beads or balls. They will help add to the bulky look of the tree when it’s finished.
After that, let the bloom fully dry. You want it to dry because the stem turns a trunk color varying from brown to gray, so no painting is necessary. That’s a great time saver! It may take a week or so for the bloom to completely dry out.
Applying the Adhesive
Before adding the foliage you need to hit the “tree” with either hair spray or adhesive spray so the ground foam will stick to the branches.
Adding the Foam
Sprinkle on the green foam a little at a time, adding more adhesive as necessary. Keep adding the ground foam until the tree looks full enough to have a home on the layout. I always use a big box to catch the foam as I sprinkle it on the branches. This foam can be re-used after it falls to the bottom.
The Finished Tree
And there you have it! Easy as that. All you have to do now is puncture a hole in your scenery and insert the tree trunk. This tree probably costs about 10 cents to make, if that.
It’s a great way to produce a lot of nice trees for your layout without spending a lot on readymade trees.