Mod­el­ling spring

Set­ting a lay­out in a par­tic­u­lar sea­son of­fers an in­ter­est­ing chal­lenge. Peter Mar­riott re­veals his tips for recre­at­ing the joys of spring.

Model Rail (UK) - - Contents -

It’s a chal­lenge to model sea­sons. Scenic ex­pert Peter Mar­riott gives his tips on de­pict­ing spring.

We rail­way mod­ellers can be very par­tic­u­lar about cer­tain facets of a lay­out, such as re­gion and pe­riod, yet we sel­dom in­vest as much ef­fort into por­tray­ing a par­tic­u­lar sea­son as we do en­sur­ing that a lo­co­mo­tive is in the cor­rect liv­ery. Un­less cov­ered in snow or fea­tur­ing strik­ing au­tum­nal trees, most lay­outs of­fer a su­per­fi­cial im­pres­sion of sum­mer. Green grasses, trees in full leaf and bright blue backscene skies hint at idyl­lic sum­mer days. But look closer and we re­alise that most of the build­ings fea­ture closed win­dows (as do the rail­way car­riages and road ve­hi­cles) and some of the minia­ture hu­man fig­ures may be wear­ing cloth­ing more suit­able for the win­ter months. Fields of lush, green grass can also be mis­lead­ing. Mois­ture is es­sen­tial for grass to flour­ish, so is it a wet sum­mer? If so, shouldn’t the roads and paths ap­pear damp and muddy? If not, the fields ought to be pale and parched, and streams and ponds al­most dry. Gar­dens, al­lot­ments and farm fields dif­fer in ap­pear­ance over the months, as cer­tain flow­ers bloom, fruits ripen and crops ma­ture. Some an­i­mals, es­pe­cially cat­tle, are kept un­der cover dur­ing win­ter, while sheep will be joined by lambs in spring and be sheared in sum­mer. Por­tray­ing sea­sons ac­cu­rately re­quires plenty of thought and ob­ser­va­tion of those es­sen­tial, smaller de­tails that are eas­ily over­looked. They are vi­tal, es­pe­cially if you’re aim­ing to por­tray a par­tic­u­lar mo­ment in time, such as the last few months of a branch line or the fi­nal days of steam op­er­a­tion in a par­tic­u­lar area.


Spring is cer­tainly an ex­cit­ing time of year, as ris­ing tem­per­a­tures and longer days trans­form the drab win­ter land­scape with vi­brant colours. Early spring flow­ers, such as daf­fodils, prim­roses, cro­cuses and snow­drops, add colour to road­sides, line­sides, gar­dens and wooded ar­eas, fol­lowed later by blue­bells, daisies and red cam­pion. Hedgerows be­come cov­ered in blos­som, as do fruit trees, while fresh green shoots ap­pear ev­ery­where. Streams and rivers re­main high as April show­ers add to the ground­wa­ter lev­els. The fields are busy as farm­ers be­gin plant­ing their sum­mer crops and there will be more peo­ple out and about in towns and vil­lages than dur­ing the win­ter months. Cy­clists are more com­mon and on sunny days some mo­torists can be seen brav­ing the el­e­ments in their con­vert­ible ve­hi­cles! While a keen eye is needed to plan scenic ad­di­tions that are ap­pro­pri­ate, por­tray­ing a spring-like at­mos­phere is easy, with plenty of scenic prod­ucts avail­able. Now’s the per­fect time to get out and about with a cam­era, record­ing the sight of na­ture wak­ing up from her win­ter slum­bers.


Clumps of daf­fodils by the line­side and vi­brant shades of green­ery help to place ‘Coombe Mill’ firmly in the spring sea­son.

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