At Hornby Live I was behind a stand for The Model Tree shop. They cater for those who want greenery on their model railways but don't have the inclination or skill to produce them themselves. That's me (I can't bend the wires for a tree skeleton, I've tried but it never looks right) so I was interested.
The products look lovely. All the major scales are covered and the prices, if you take into account the amount of work required, are cheap. Something around 35cm tall will cost you in the region of 25 quid. Smaller plants are cheaper. OK, so you can probably buy some "bog brush" type conifers for pennies but if you are modelling the UK then they look more than a little out of place. If you aren't they still don't really look like trees. Except possibly if used in the background.
Now I aspire to model the Isle of Man and while trees are a common enough sight, the one that really stands out is the classic Manx Palm. Botanists apparently call this Cordyline australis or the cabbage tree, a plant all the way from New Zealand. I'm not that convinced but don't know any better. Worse, I can't find any pictures in my collection of Manx shots. Pretty surprising that as there are a hell of a lot of them (photos not palm trees, although there are plenty of these too).
So I picked up this rather nice palm from the stand for something under 4 quid. That to me is a bargain. The leaves are etched brass, the trunk some sort of plastic I think, and the bushy stuff part of a shaved coconut. Probably. I wouldn't want to make one for that sort of money.
Of course only after buying the tree do I do some proper research. My excuse is that I didn't have a picture handy. Looking at the real thing, what I have isn't right, but it isn't bad either. The trunk and hairy bit are pretty accurate, it's the green stuff that lets it down. On the other hand it's not too bad to my eye and the alternative of making my own is sufficiently unappealing that if the IOM model ever appears, I'll probably just use them anyway. After all I'll only need 2 or 3 dotted around. It's only a plant after all (ducks as gardeners around the world hurl abuse).
The Model Tree shop - Palm tree selection