Tuesday, December 22, 2015

"Harvest time... and my own field of dreams!"

Since it's the season of Chanukah bushes and Christmas trees, why not take a quick look at the potential foliage for the Old Main Line depicting mid-March when trees in Maryland are a mix of still-barren and just-blooming.

Modelers have always sought cheap (free) and plentiful natural specimens that can be applied for scenery-making purposes. Horseweed or Mare's Tail, Oak Leaf Hydrangea and Sedum seem to be the most popular and most effective.

This massive field of  horseweed is in my neighborhood here in north central New Jersey. It is typically ripe for harvest right around Thanksgiving, but the continued warm temperatures this year has lengthened the time before it has gone dormant. BTW, this looks like it would make a great photo backdrop, doesn't it?

The weed looks like this throughout the summer and typically grows to about three high. It tends to flourish along side roadways and highways. Its eventual transformation during late fall is pretty significant.

A supply that was harvested a year ago seems to have kept just fine in one of my trusty boxes. The items can be straightened out by holding over steam, but seem to be a little too dry to use the soldering iron method that works with Super Trees.

The top of each bush can be clipped to look like this and then carefully trimmed back to yield several potential trees. The key to harvesting is to wait until most leaves have dropped leaving only the seedlings. A few leaves are still evident here, but they'll fall off easily.

The trees on the right are the result of simple clipping of the top armature that is pictured above. The trees on the right come from the process of dragging through a clawed hand so the fingers knock off the seedlings.

The plan is to experiment with various treatments of matte medium, spray paint and even A/I wash. Most trees will be left bare, but some will have a hint of new growth using the traditional dip and sprinkle method. They look best when clustered closely together as background trees. But since I'm modeling a wooded river valley, I'm going to need an awful lot of that type, so why not give it a try?

But that won't be for awhile. For now, warmest wishes to everyone this holiday season. May your trains be on time and always remain on the rails.
Update: January 13, 2016

Where'd it go? The old adage says, "You snooze, you lose."  So much for my field of dreams!
What do you find is your favorite part of the holiday season?
A) Finding a non-handicapped parking spot in the mall parking lot.
B) Finding the absolutely perfect Christmas tree with your wife.
C) Finding a suitable box in which to pack and ship odd-sized gifts. 
D) Finding which outdoor decoration has shorted everything else out.
E) Finding peace on earth and goodwill towards man.

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