modelling plants and flowers

Glenthorne Hotel gardens

Perhaps the most time consuming part of making scenery are the smaller plants and flowers. The pioneering work of Roy England on Pendon has placed new demands of the modeller if anything reasonably acceptable is to be achieved. On the other hand, very few people are prepared to spend 2000 hours making just one cottage! Gradually, we are developing our own techniques which can be achieved in a relatively short space of time.

I shall describe the methods used so far. There are still a lot of other plants to add once we have the technology in place.

cow parsley

railway boundary fence

We select tiny branches of sea moss, spray with adhesive and add some fine turf scatter. A small hole is made in the Polyfilla with a dental pick and the plant glued in with PVA. When dry, the white blooms are painted on.


foxgloves in the shade of a hedge

We use bristles from a wall paper brush. These are coated in PVA then dipped in green scatter followed by a light coating of 'heather' scatter. Excess is removed, and when dry, the plants are individually planted through course turf scatter.


border around bowling green

These flowers were very popular in the 1930s. We again used wall paper brush bristles, dipped in PVA then plunged into very fine ballast. The result is an excellent shape, the bristles, being tapered themselves. The blooms are then painted on, with the tips being painted light green, to represent buds. There are 230 blooms planted around the bowling green. The same technique can be used for red hot pokers.


rose garden

Standard roses are made from carefully selected small branches of sea moss. These are spray glued and green scatter attached. The blooms are added individually and are one of the slightly larger white scatter products. These are painted the required colour when dry. One must remember that the choice of rose colours pre-war was quite restricted. Climbing roses are made from a fuse wire armature, spray painted then green scatter of the correct colour attached. For rounded blooms, we use very small poppy seed painted in the base colour. These are attached and further detailing added then, such as white centres as seen in the photo below of an American Pillar rose. More open blooms are represented by larger scatter material which is individually painted to the required colour after attachment.

American Pillar rose on mews


For the most part, we use various types of scatter and 'clumping' material and paint on the blooms. We find that painting all blooms gives a more vivid effect which we prefer. A more detailed method is used at the front of the layout, where individual stems are made using painted fuse wire and the flower head attached with PVA. Small punches are used to cut out pre-coloured paper to make flower heads such as those for dog roses.


These days it seems 'de rigueur' to include a vegetable patch. Cabbages are made from modellers clay and the leaves carved with a dental pick. They are painted and attached to open leaves made from cut tissue paper. Other plants are made using scatter material and clumping. The runner beans are made in a similar manner to the brambles, described below.

The signalman's allotment......cabbages, runner beans, potatoes and a marrow plant.


We make brambles with fuse wire armatures, spray painted and then covered in scatter of the appropriate colour. The shoots can be formed over the landscape once planted.

brambles in Glenthorne cutting

bracken and ferns

The conventional way to make these is naturally. The material is Asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri'), bought from a florist shop. First, separate the fronds from the main stem and spray the desired colour. The natural colour will quickly fade.

Then immerse the fronds completely in a glycerine/water mix (1 : 3) overnight. This will preserve the fronds and prevent them becoming brittle.

Cut the fronds into small pieces and you have perfect bracken and ferns.

new methods

For a king's ransom, one can buy ferns in brass etchings. I personally do not like them as they really do look like they are metal, no matter what one does.

After a lot of experimentation, we have found it possible to have scale leaves accurately cut using a paper cutting laser. So far we have small samples of Virginia Creeper leaves and bracken. The solution is much cheaper than etched brass and the result appears more organic.

Part of the laser cutting pattern for bracken. Each frond is 6mm long



oak leaves: these can be green or autumn (and don't cough!)

miniature commercially available plants

I have tried a new product available from International Models. The flowers, which come in a variety of colours do make very nice roses, or if bunched up, a credible flowering bush.

I have also tried the Mininatur ivy. I find the leaves a bit out of scale and that the medium is far too stiff to easily form. I wish that I could get the same result as the publicity shot below!

Busch have now brought out a range of tiny plastic plants. The cost is beyond belief and in my view, not all of them look right. For sure, they need properly painting. These products can be seen in the bigger exhibitions these days so you can be your own judge! Some of their products are shown below.