Part of the area I planted for my wild sim last fall looks like that. I don't weed or fertilize and the emergence rate in the area is pretty low, 25% maybe. It's hard to tell though because of all the ferns The best emergence seems to come from areas that already have small herbal plants.
Some fern species are know to be allelopathic, meaning that they deter other plants from growing by excreting chemicals through their roots. Thats why scattered ferns are fine, but dense growth tends to be problematic.
Thanks for all of your perspectives on this. By the way, WV your plants look great! Maybe I should do a few beds like that.
I think we all are trying to find the ideal between completely wild approach with low cost and minimal work (and letting nature destroy most of what we plant and very slow root growth rate) versus a more intensive cultivated approach (with more effort, expense, and constant guard against fungal disease, deer, etc).
Yeah the more wild you go the more die (although the more the roots are worth), but the easier it is to do. I went as wild as possible, but I drew the line at letting the deer eat them in the spring. I put up a ton of barbed wire after some deer came through and ate like a 1000 sq/ft of sprouts before they had a chance.