In Germany, there are over one hundred especially valuable cultural landscapes which are protected as nature parks. They all preserve and develop something unique and aim to inspire and raise awareness. Lüneburg Heath Nature Park was one of the first nature parks to be established in Germany and today it is one of the largest and most famous of its kind. It stretches over more than 107,000 hectares and includes the largest contiguous heathlands in Central Europe. These are located in Lüneburg Heath Nature Reserve around Wilseder Berg, in the heart of the Nature Park. Wetlands, old forests, heathland streams and rivers, as well as dynamic villages with old farms and thatched houses are also components of this unique cultural landscape which are worth protecting and experiencing.
COMMON HEATHER - IT LOVES ACIDIC SOIL
Common heather is also known in English as ‘ling’ or simply ‘heather’. Its generic name 'Calluna vulgaris' derives from the Greek word kallyno, meaning 'beautify, sweep clean'. Its German name reflects this – 'Besen' means 'brush' in english. Common heather defines the landscape in Lüneburg Heath Nature Reserve. It is an evergreen dwarf shrub with light violet flowers, with an up to 15 cm long, one-sided, dense raceme. The nodding flowers are about 4 mm long. Common heather loves sunny and light places and is found on heathland, unimproved meadows, dry forests, moorland and on rocky ground. It is regarded as acid-loving, i.e. a plant which can only thrive on soils with a specific pH value. The soils must be acidic or nutrient- and base-poor for common heather.
HEATHER BLOSSOMING – AN INCOMPARABLE SPECTACLE
But when does the heathland blossom? Heather (Calluna vulgaris) blooms from August to September. The landscape is then dipped into a rich violet and develops its very special appeal. A rule of thumb says that the heather blossoms from 08.08 until 09.09.
But of course, the blossoming can also be earlier or later. The less widespread cross-leaved heather blooms as early as July. The intensity of the blossom depends on the weather conditions and can vary from year to year.
SHEPHERD AND SCHNUCKEN
Would you like to see the typical sheep of the region, which is called Schnucken (German grey heath)? Even today we cannot imagine the heathland without Schnucken and shepherds, and surely you will also expect to meet them on a visit to our region. In Lüneburg Heath Nature Park you do not have to leave such a meeting to chance. There are many possibilities to meet a scurrying flock with their alert and hard-working sheep dogs and the shepherd – a special nature experience.
Our tip: spend a whole day with a shepherd and watch his or her work or join in yourself.