Two years ago I wrote about modelling gum trees (The challenges of modelling gum trees). One of the unresolved issues in that post was the challenge of getting the density of foliage right. I have always found that the materials used for the foliage do not give a good representation of the gum tree 'parachute' canopy.
The twisted wire method simulated the major branch supporting each parachute canopy but the lighter twig structure supporting the canopy was always missing. I tried using Polyfibre and Foliage Clusters, both Woodland Scenics products, but these created a rounder shape producing canopies that seemed too dense.
A little later, I stumbled across a Luke Towan's YouTube clip 'Make Realistic Gum Trees using Seafoam - Fast & Easy'. The key to this method was the use of Gaugemaster Seafoam, a product that I had not encountered previously but one that has apparently been around for a while. I had located a few other more general references on the web but Luke's clip appears to be the only one using it for gum trees.
The Seafoam has a shape which provides a good representation of the branch and lighter twig structure of the gum tree but as Luke notes, the Seafoam 'tree' requires significant pruning to get to the general gum tree shape. I constructed a few trees using Luke's technique and they were a considerable improvement on my earlier efforts. The photo above is shows one of these now planted behind the engine shed at Kingston Plains.
The only problem with the Seafoam is that the length of each is around 100-150mm which scales to around 9-13m in HO. While this length is suitable for younger trees, Wikipedia tells me that a medium sized gum tree ranges in size from 10 to 30 m so I needed something extra to model a few larger trees. For these, I used the same technique as I wrote about previously, namely using a small stick or twig as the main trunk, drilling holes into the timber and gluing the Seaform stems as the major branches to the tree. Where necessary, 'No More Gaps' was used to ensure a smooth transition between the two. A photo above shows the skeletal form of the tree. I then applied foliage to each of the branches using a method similar to that outlined in Luke's video.
One lesson learnt, Seafoam stems are fragile and liable to bend or break as they are inserted into the main trunk. It also remains to be seen if gravity causes the branches to sag over time.