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