Starting phase

After suitable initial conditions have been created, one starts with a soil that is free from vegetative weeds—as usual, but even more important, in this particular case. Calluna vulgaris and Erica tetralix can be sown or planted out. Using a mixed method is generally successful, i. e. planting out a few plants that are allowed to self-seed, thus creating a gradually closing vegetation. The seed of Calluna is ripe by November, Erica tetralix seed a little earlier. When it is preferred to start by sowing a dry heath vegetation, the trimmed-off heather heads containing the ripe seeds are distributed over the plot immediately allowing the seed to fall out on the spot. The woody heads themselves are left in place, since they offer some protection during germination and provide a favourable microclimate to the young seedlings. In addition, they protect the soil against dehydration, strong winds and washing off, etc. As the young plants develop, the heads are gradually carried off in late spring and early summer. All other shrubs are planted out, for example Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Genista pilosa, G. anglica, G. germanica,

Sarothamnus, Ulex. Herbaceous plants are either planted or sown: Viola canina, Campanula rotundifolia, Antennaria dioica and Gentiana cruciata are planted, whereas Jasione, Centaurium, Arnica, Dianthus armeria and Petrorhagia prolifera are sown. Wet heath and bog vegetation are started on permanently wet soils, generally with a high watertable level, approximately 10-15 cm under the surface. In wet heath vegetation, combinations can be made of typical, characteristic pioneer vegetations of the ‘wet heath habitat’ with the species described for vegetations on open plots. After planting out Erica tetralix possibly combined with Salix repens, Genista anglica, Vaccinium vitisidaea and V. uliginosum, accompanying species such as Gentiana pneumonanthe, Narthecium ossifragum, Drosera rotundifolia and D. intermedia, and Hypericum elodes are immediately sown. Autumn sowing is preferable as germination is stimulated by frost. Pseudo-grasses, such as Eriophorum, Scirpus cespitosus, Carex or Rhynchophora, are not used as they are too vigorous. Sphagnum spp. may also be brought in as sprinkled or planted heads.

Bog vegetations may be started by planting out Andromeda polifolia, Vaccinium uliginosum and V. macrocarpus, Erica tetralix and Sphagnum heads, and by sowing typical pioneer species (see the previous paragraph). One may prefer to create species vegetation types, such as Bog Rosemaryor Bog Bilberry heath, etc., or create species compositions. Species such as Salix repens may be added in places.

It should be noted that one chooses in the initial stage—in fact, in the designing phase—whether one wishes to create wet heath or bog vegetations. In a later phase, wet heath vegetations, especially the Sphagnum component, may be transformed into vegetation types characteristic of bog vegetations. These two vegetation types are, in fact, closely related. Vegetations of Vaccinium oxycoccus, for instance, have the best chance of succeeding when the species is inserted as pre-raised plants into young maturing Sphagnum cushions. After planting it out in the subsoil in-between the Sphagnum, it will develop well if it grows into the Sphagnum cushions. Species growing in separate spots elsewhere in the same area may also sub-spontaneously establish themselves in bog vegetations, for example Vaccinium vitis-idaea, V. myrtillus and Empetrum nigrum.

Vaccinium vitis-idaea, V. myrtillus and Empetrum nigrum are also perfect species for using along the edges of heath and bog vegetations, in transitional situations with woodland for example.

As separate vegetation types, Vaccinium vitis-idaea and Empetrum nigrum are particularly well-suited to create aspects with a very special atmosphere, the so-called bilberry and crowberry heaths. Combined with ferns such as Blechnum spicant, Polypodium vulgare and Dryopteris cristata, very subtle and strongly evocative images may be created.

The king fern (Osmunda regalis) plays a part of its own. As it is utterly ornamental and full of character and grows to a very large size over the years, it provides strong images and accents like no other. Its majestic shape and appearance throughout the year makes it suitable for application everywhere, but it fits in best in the atmosphere of marsh, heath and bog. If it is applied correctly, in larger numbers and repetitively, it lends a definite air of grandeur to the area.

Updated: October 10, 2015 — 6:58 pm