This week I decided it was time to start work on the last untouched area of the castle, the garden on the roof over the library. Before I could do this however, I had to add my system for attaching the front panels to the castle. The castle kit comes with some quite large hinges intended to allow all three front pieces to open independantly. I decided very early on that these hinges were not going to be used in my castle; there is simply no way to make them discreet and unnoticable. If the people who designed the kit at DHE had thought to cut rebates for the hinges, at least you could have wallpapered over the top of them. They didn't and the hinges supplied aren't suitable to trying to rebate them anyway. So I decided to hang the hinges and the front panels as well, just in a different way. Accross the top of the front egde of all three sections of the castle I glued a 0.5cm high strip of hardwood. To the inside of the three front panels I glued another square strip of wood onto which a taller, thinner strip was glued and nailed so that the two pieces of wood formed and inverted L shape. This L shape on the front panels hooks over the strips of wood on top of the main building to hold the fronts in position. The front panels now hang on these L shaped hooks when in place and simply lift off out the way when the castle is opened up.
As I said, I needed to do this before the garden so I knew how much space the system took up and didn't make a mess of the garden trying to add it sometime after doing the garden. Once I has this organised, I pulled out some terracotta coloured air drying clay and started to roll out a flat sheet. When the sheet was both thin and wide enough, I positioned it in the garden, trimmed it to the right shape then glued it down. A small, square cutter was used to make the impression of tiles in the wet clay. If you recall, this is exactly the same as the method used for the black tiles on the ground floor way back when. I took the excess clay and made a slightly irregular fountain which is the centre piece of the garden. This was achieved by my normal method of working with clay; keep messing about until you get something close to what you want.
Once the clay tiles were dry, I gave them a couple of washes with some watered down brown acrylic to improve the colour and give them some character and them sealed them with a matte sealer. The fountain, as well as a pre-bought bench seat, birdbath and pedestal were all painted grey to match the rest of the castle stone. Some decorative purple stones were used to line the bottom of the fountain. In the photos you can see a white fluid around the stones. This is the watered down glue that I poured ontop of the stones to hold them in place and it will dry clear. I need to buy some water to use in the fountain, both for the bottom pool and to have cascading down the centre pillar. If anyone can suggest a good brand/product to use, I'd be very interested.
The hedges and topiary cones are made from oasis foam. The foam was cut to shape using a pallette knife as I found this worked better than a proper sharp knife. The foam was then painted with some watered down PVA glue and then sprinkled with model railway "grass" (This consists of fine spongy particles much like flower soft, but finer and green). I had mixed two different shades of green to give the hedges some interest and variation. The hedges will need another coat of this "grass" now that the first has had a chance to dry. Some fish tank gravel covers the ground in the corners behind the hedges.
With the exception of one or two minor touches, the castle's construction and decoration phaze is now complete and it's now time for furniture, people and accessories.