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Ecological Compositions In Gardens - Geographic, Climatic And Others
Ecological Compositions In Gardens - Geographic, Climatic And Others

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Following nature

Garden compositions that take into account the similarity of plant requirements for growing conditions are called ecological. Each plant has its own ecological characteristics: requirements for illumination, soil and air moisture, mechanical composition, nutritional value and soil acidity.

Rock garden in the Botanical Garden
Rock garden in the Botanical Garden

An ecological garden composition is compiled with these characteristics in mind. Of course, in any garden, regardless of its style and planning principles, the ecological requirements of plants must be taken into account. The most luxurious composition, made without knowledge of plant ecology, will disintegrate over several seasons (which we usually see as a result of the work of landscape designers who have not received basic environmental education).

But the main difference between ecological composition and others is a clear alignment according to the importance of factors in the order: ecology-agricultural technology-style. That is, if a rose does not bloom in a thick shade in the garden, but looks beautiful in the architecture of the composition, then in the case of the dominance of style, it can be left in this place, and in an ecological composition, a transplant is required to a more illuminated area.

Alpine slide
Alpine slide

Thus, one of the important features of an ecological garden composition is the confident passage of all phenological phases by all plants - flowering, fruiting, dormancy and stages of life - growth, development, reproduction, extinction. A classic example of such a composition is a combination of species of shady forests - clefthoof, ferns, kupena, astilbe, which prefer moist soil and tolerate the heavy texture of the soil well. Such compositions often add up on their own if the location of the site puts the owner before a choice: to cut down the surrounding forest, move the house, or still try to turn the garden into something special. A pleasant feature of such combinations is that the plants planted in the same flower bed enter into natural ecological interactions, an analogue of a natural ecosystem is formed, which is prone to self-maintenance,and in the future, caring for the resulting composition will not give you much trouble.

True ecological compositions should be considered those in which plants of one ecotope are collected (steppes, foothills, alpine meadows, deciduous forests, spruce forests, oak forests, etc.), characterized by a specific range of growing conditions. The types of compositions listed above are based on the natural features of plants and are most close to natural growing conditions.

Saxifrage
Saxifrage

A variant of ecological composition is geographic. This can be, for example, a fragment of an oak grove with hazel thickets and Tatar maple among oak grass forbs - runny, anemone, woods, hoof, kupyr, zelenchuk, or a piece of forest in the foothills of the Caucasus with wild peonies and blackberries under the canopy of elms entwined with prickly liana … However, in most cases, the author's imagination is limited by climatic conditions, and in the middle lane (and even more so in the north) the choice of geographical compositions will be small. Therefore, it is easier to build an ecological composition, combining plants from different geographic areas, but similar habitats.

When creating an ecological composition, it is important not to go to the opposite extreme, randomly scattering plantings in the hope that all unnecessary will be discarded by itself, and the composition will take shape. Remember that for millions of years nature has selected the most successful combinations of plants in communities, ruthlessly destroying all others, which is why the natural landscape is so beautiful. You won't have that much time ahead for the garden to take shape by itself, so learn from nature. Otherwise, there may be species harmoniously combined on other grounds, but ecologically incompatible, or, on the contrary, the beauty of individual combinations will be sacrificed to environmental requirements.

Rock garden in the Botanical Garden
Rock garden in the Botanical Garden

Ecological compositions of garden plants in combination with wild ones have become especially popular recently. As an example of such a composition, you can consider an alpine meadow, or a rock garden. To begin with, we will clarify the terminology and outline the principles of landscape design on which such a composition is built. Most often, "rock garden" means a strange pile of stones with the most incredible selection of plants. In fact, rockeries are more common in our gardens - rocky compositions based on a combination of plants and stone. In rockeries, most types of ornamental ground cover and low-growing plants are used, absolutely regardless of their origin. Compositionally, it is permissible to use boulders and other round stones in rockeries.

Unlike rockeries, a rock garden is a copy of the ecotope of high-mountainous meadows. An alpine meadow develops above the belt of subalpine meadows. Subalpine meadows are similar to plain ones, their herbage reaches 50-60 cm, there are many moisture-loving perennials. These meadows are divided into cereal, sedge, and herb meadows. By the way, it is on these meadows that livestock is mainly grazed, and not at all on the Alpine ones (although this is exactly what they say in the famous advertising). Compare for yourself: on alpine meadows there is a lower grass stand (10-15 cm), the species composition of grasses is less diverse and, moreover, stones are abundantly scattered. Here, a cow will not work up a lot of milk, but just imagine a cow climbing along the landscape of an alpine slide! Only good climbing goats and sheep can be found in the alpine meadow.

Bloodroot
Bloodroot

So, let's consider the main characteristics of an alpine meadow. Bright sun, humid air, fertile, well-drained soil with an admixture of stones and a rather short, even in the southern mountains, growing season determined the composition of the vegetation. Alpine meadows are dominated by low perennials, cushion and rosette plants; sedge-grass patches and alpine "carpets" (mattas) with dicotyledonous dominance are also quite common.

The grasses of alpine meadows are distinguished by large brightly colored flowers, among them yellow and orange (buttercups, cinquefoil, cuffs and poppies), as well as red and pink (various bulbous, geraniums and saxifrage) prevail. The blue-blue aspect is given by liverworts, gentians and forget-me-nots, violets, alpine asters and small-petals bring a purple hue.

Alpine grasses are cold-resistant, but they do not tolerate both stagnant moisture in the soil and drought. This must be taken into account, along with the high requirements of grasses to the composition of the soil, therefore the site for the alpine composition should be allocated in a sufficiently drained fertile place. For comparison: rockeries with stonecrop are usually formed on "waste" plots, where other cultivated plants simply do not take root. Traditionally, rock gardens are located near the house, but an alpine slide can also be used to separate the recreation area from garden crops.

Alpine meadow in nature
Alpine meadow in nature

The construction of a rock garden begins with the formation of a rocky base. For this, it is best to use limestone (travertine, calcareous tuff, dolomite) - they are most favorable for plants because they allow water and air to pass through, creating healthy aeration and moisture, while they themselves slowly dissolve under the influence of plants and normalize the soil composition. Therefore, in natural mountain conditions, most alpine plants grow, preferring neutral or slightly alkaline soil, they grow on limestone. Also, limestone is a warm stone. Sandstones, like limestones, are breathable rocks, but more durable than limestone. They are also good for plant life, especially those that contain lime. Using large pieces of sandstone covered with moss in the composition,gives a historical look to the entire structure. Granite is more durable, which makes it indispensable in construction. However, granite is a cold stone, which is suitable for conifers and some heather species, which dictates a completely different style of composition.

Before the stones are laid, drainage from the rubble layer is arranged. The thickness of the drainage layer should be at least 15 cm. A layer (30-40 cm thick) of loose earth rich in humus (up to 10%) is poured over the drainage. Then stones are laid, sinking them into the ground so that they naturally come to the surface. Various plants are planted between the stones in the soil in accordance with the compositional solution.

Rockery
Rockery

As a rule, a rock garden has a clear center of the composition - usually it is a massive stone symbolizing a mountain peak. A rather original compositional solution is the placement in the center, near the peak, of a group of plants of the same genus, but of different species and varieties, and as you move to the periphery, patches of other species appear and enlarge, grouped according to the ecological principle. Do not forget that even an alpine slide that rises only half a meter is an element of the relief and has its own northern and southern slopes, which means that the plants should differ on them. For example, the center of the composition can be yellow, orange and purple small-petals, differing not only in the color of the flowers, but also in their size and height. The southern slope can be used for cereals, saxifrage and bulbous, and the northern one can be occupied with decorative cuffs and geraniums. Violets,poppies, asters, gentians and buttercups will flow equally well from the west and east into both parts of the composition.

An interesting geographical variant of an alpine meadow will be the Altai hill: alpine sedge with black spikelets, blue aquilegia flowers, maral root (leuzea) with purple-pink inflorescences, white and yellow flowers of partridge grass and pink rhodiola, various poppies and even Daurian rhododendron with lilac flowers.

Alpine meadow in nature
Alpine meadow in nature

The tricky moment that almost every gardener faces when creating a slide is when to plant a wild species and when a cultivar? In this case, two factors must be taken into account: biological characteristics and decorativeness. For example, wild alpine cinquefoil is much more difficult to take root in the garden than specially bred varieties, so it is better to use their garden forms. But varietal bulbous, such as terry or fringed tulips, attract attention very much, therefore, if there is no compositional counterweight, it is better to plant a low wild Bieberstein tulip, which will give a bright yellow aspect, but will not get out of the general design. Plant cereals mainly decorative, because wild cereals are visually "lost" in the garden composition against the background of large flowers.

Caring for an alpine meadow after its formation is completed is quite simple: in the spring, after the soil thaws, the settled soil is loosened and the missing soil is added between the stones, and the stones are compacted or corrected. Feeding with fertilizers is not recommended in order to avoid excessive plant growth, sometimes in the fall you can add a small amount of rotted organic matter. During the season, light loosening and removal of weeds are carried out, as well as pruning of sprawling clumps of cereals. If necessary, replace or plant new plants.

The principles on which an ecological garden composition is built should be taken into account when creating garden compositions in other directions, based on the centuries-old traditions of garden art.

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