Years ago, to advertise the Leamington & Warwick MRS show, we took a stand in the local shopping centre. For the first couple of year, small layouts were shown to husbands delighted to have some entertainment rather than another trip around M&S.
In a large building, the sort of layouts we were taking along looked a bit lost. OO trains can't be seen very well from a distance either so it was difficult to attract an audience. What we needed was something bigger.
I had a brainwave - why not build a garden railway for the day ?
The plan was simple enough. A local garden centre kindly loaned us a load of plants - the sort of bushy low growing sort you actually want around a garden line. We just had to put up a board thanking them which we were very happy to do. Buying a couple of trays of pansies helped too but it wasn't necessary. In January they didn't see much business and it didn't actually cost them anything for the advert.
On the Friday night we'd borrow some staging from the centre, set it up in a ring with one of their big pot plants in the middle and lay plastic O gauge track on a bed of pea gravel. The landscape would them be made up of polystyrene and a few bags of compost. Finally, the plants were added, still in their pots. Careful placement and leaning hid these. A few details such as huts and, in the last year, scale penguins and the display was ready.
Saturday saw my cheapo 16mm scale trains circling the track while the public looked on amazed. At the end of the day, the who lot was packed into the back of my camper, the peat returned to bags and later our garden and everything swept away.
Why am I telling you this ?
Well the BBC is getting over-excited about the Chelsea flower show. So I wonder, why shouldn't we build a garden railway there ? I'm sure no one else does and I bet the crowds would love it. How do I apply ?