For a while I have been wanting to visit the Garchinger Heide, a small nature reserve located about 15 kilometres away from here (Freising). I had read some flyers in the ‘Landratsamt’ last year, when I was there to register our car. The flyers had some colorful flower pictures on it. When I tried to find if there were interesting hiking trails in the area, my Wikiloc and Komoot apps did not give many results, and the one I did find showed a picture of a dull-looking grassland (see the overview shot somewhere below). I have seen my fair share of species-poor dull grasslands in the Netherlands, and I did most of my PhD research in one. I noticed that this particular area was locked in from all sides in agricultural fields. Usually not the best sign, as these are often highly fertilized, and spillovers may occur (or have occurred in the past). Fertilized grounds are not exactly heaven for interesting or rare plants. Such areas instead benefit fast-growing ruderal species that take up a lot of nutrients and outcompete everything that grows, well, not that fast. Let’s just say that the result is often a grassland that is green and is fine for running or cycling past, or taking your dog for a poop, but it is not a walhalla for botanists or entomologists.
This morning, the plan was to go to the Alps, but because I’m never too sure what to make of the weather forecast in the area we decided to go some place close to home. (a thin layer of clouds with lots of sun poking through is often indicated as heavily overcast – but the same applies when heavy thunderstorms are rolling in) So I decided to revive the Garchinger Heide plan. And I’m glad I did. This area apparently has remained rather untouched and still somehow resembles grasslands as they used to be in the area about 100 years ago. The species that are found here are mostly typical for nutrient-poor soils. A tiny little biodiversity hotspot in an otherwise relatively boring area.
We arrived as the first visitors in the area and for a while had the place to ourselves. The area is small enough to walk through with a two-year old (I tested this), and by the time we had reached the other side and made our return to the parking area, swarms of people had flocked around some of the flowers. Time to leave.
In any case, I will be back regularly. As a lady that was photographing some flowers told me, the area was ‘balm for the soul’, and I wholeheartedly agree.