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Trees from Oregano

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shelldrake writes:

Pat, like the idiot i am, i must have written your email down incorrectly… can you either let me know what it is, or send me an email to ij_downunder at hot mail dot com


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17 September 2008page first published

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Pat Ripley Fezian writes:

I've long been interested in making tree stands for wargaming from aquarium plants, or even the floristry plants that have appeared in the dollar shops around the place. But I've never come across a plant that worked for me. But then I discovered… oregano!

Plastic oregano plants

I found these small pots in our local Kmart store, discounted down to a third of their original price. At this point, I'll mention I'm a chef and a gardener, and I've never seen oregano that looks like this. It looks more like a miniature holly than anything else. But perfect for what I wanted.

A small plastic pot holds a polystyrene foam insert, with the individual branches pushed into it. Each branch has an internal wire, and individually moulded leaves with a colour running from a deep green at the base to light yellow at the tips.

What I was after was something that had a presence on the tabletop, that actually looked like a small stand of tropical bushes, and was cheap, tough and portable.

So off to the shops again for a bunch of little grassy palms and a long wire with some ferny foliage. I also picked up some MDF coasters for the bases. I bought both round and square coasters but decided on the round, as they just looked right to me.

Plastic oregano bits

After pulling the pots off the oregano, I cut the foam down to about a centimetre in height, then hot-melt-glued them onto the centre of the coasters.

At this point (as I realised later), I should have sprayed the top of the old foam, as its easier at this point then trying to shoot around and through all the plants.

Then I pulled apart the tall ferny plant, leaving me with three tall spikes and a handful of smaller branches. A little hot-melt-gluing resulted in something resembling clumps of fern. The little grassy palms had their wires cut down and bent, allowing me to spike the wire into the foam sideways - hopefully giving a better-strength joint.

And I started gluing.


That went well. Then the fill. After a bit of searching in the shed, I found a pot of pre-mixed plaster filler, so that went on.


A little beach sand for texture (it was getting a bit Milton the Monster at this point). Glued down with some brushed-on white glue.


After a couple of days' drying time - as the plaster was reasonably thick in places - the next step was painting.

I was trying to avoid painting the plants at all, and have an aversion to putting flock on these sort of projects. I find after a couple of years, it just gets tatty. The way these plants been put together, a quick blast with the air compressor should clear dust and get them back to looking good even after time on the shelf.

As you can see from the photo above, there was a lot of white to cover, and a lot of fiddly corners. Then I remembered a can of Tamiya Olive Drab spray paint. Out it came and it worked a treat, despite not being used for a couple of years (at least). Then some acrylic poster paints (a darker green), then a quick drybrush with Mud Puddle.

Finished trees

The results I'm quite happy with.

Finished tree

Total cost: Somewhere around $20.00 AUD