‘Peat heath’

When this type of maintenance by mowing with a scythe is carefully and strictly adhered to, the reed will, in the long run, disappear completely, with the Sphagnum-Polytrichum vegetation, including the aforementioned species, transforming into a vegetation of dwarf shrubs from the heather family (Ericaceae). This anthropogenic vegetation is called ‘veenheide’. Its formation may be encouraged by sowing Vaccinium oxycoccus and V. macrocarpus, Erica tetralix, Calluna vulgaris, Vaccinium vitis-idaea and Empetrum nigrum. As soon as they appear, one should start mowing at a slightly higher level to encourage their proliferation and further development. In general, it will not be feasible to stop mowing altogether. It would be the next logical step in creating a bog-like vegetation, but since the environment and the vegetation are generally too rich in nutrients (and partially dependent on the groundwater), this will rarely be feasible. One may, however, leave a number of dwarf shrubs unmown, causing them to attain larger sizes or clumps evoking a strong naturalistic aspect. Incidentally, one may treat moss vegetations in the same manner. In addition to providing the right environment, a carefully and consistently maintained maintenance and management schedule (40-50 times per year is not an exception!) is vital in preserving a vegetation such as this—in fact, a miniature bog—which is a unique result.

In older and poorer (Sphagnum) reedlands, young trees and shrubs may appear spontaneously, for example Betula pubescens, Sorbus aucuparia, Frangula alnus, Salix aurita and Aronia x prunifolia. The vegetation tends to develop into marsh woodland, which is, in fact, the next natural succession phase. By cutting at, or under, ground level—and, when necessary, cutting out older stubs too thick for mowing off—one can keep trees and shrubs at bay, thus allowing anthropogenic succession to continue.

Updated: October 10, 2015 — 3:08 pm