Old Muley’s Roundhouse

Life, photography and philosophy at 1:87 scale…

Low Cost Natural Trees

As far as I can tell, there are two different kinds of pre-manufactured trees on the market. First there are the kind that look like crap; think of the old “Life Like” trees that looked like they’d be more at home on grandma’s Christmas village than on a railroad. The second kind are good looking, but pricey- and you always need way more trees than you think. So here’s a solution that allows you to build your own trees from a natural material. The first material I used is called “Candy Tuft” which was purchased at Michaels Craft store. It comes in a variety of colors, but I found “natural” to be the best looking. I think a bundle cost something like $5.00 and yielded enough sprigs to build about 15 nice-sized trees. The second material is the dried flowers of the sedum or “stonecrop” plant. It is a very common, decorative succulent that is easy to grow in your own back yard.

The Candy Tuft after being un-bundled. The hopper in the picture gives you a sense of scale. This bunch cost about $5.00 so you can afford to pick up several.

After removing the long stems and separating the individual stalks, you’re left with a good amount of material to work with.

Here is a single stalk straight out of the bundle. You can get an idea of the scale when compared to the HO scale figure.

You will need to remove all of the little leaves on each sprig. They occur everywhere a branch splits and become progressively smaller as you work your way up.

Here I’ve removed all of the little leaves that were attached to the sprig. Sometimes they would pull right off, but occasionally I had to use a small scissors to clip them.

A bunch of sprigs planted gives you a sense of what an open forest might look like. Without too much work they might work as a forest tree, but they are too airy and open for a field tree.

These trees were sprayed with a variety of different color paints to see what could be accomplished. Of course if you wanted to model the fall, the natural color of the candy tuft might just work.

Using florist tape, I bundled several sprigs together to make them appear fuller and more substantial. These have also had some flocking sprinkled on the tops to fill them out even more.

This is Sedum, or stonecrop, growing in my back yard. It is a very hardy plant that grows to be about 18” inches tall. Typically they start flowering in mid summer, and it’s the flower that we want.

Here is a close-up of the sedum flower. I’ve found that it’s best to leave these plants alone and harvest the flowers just before spring. This gives them a chance to fully dry and harden over winter.

More to come!

More to come!