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Wildflower Summer

Two years ago, we started a wildflower meadow at Orton Academy to join the national effort to restore Britain’s wildflower meadows! This summer, we’ve been enjoying the splendid displays of wildflowers. Here are a few of the highlights…

Common Knapweed and Burnet Moth


It can be difficult to start a wildflower meadow from scratch, especially if the land has been used to graze livestock. Yellow rattle can help, as it is parasitic on grass and will give other wildflowers a chance. Last year, we had some good progress with establishing our yellow rattle and we’ve noticed a lot more diversity in the meadow this year. The bees love it!

Yellow rattle


2024 Botanical Survey


This June, the wildflower meadow underwent a botanical survey in collaboration with the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland.

Buttercups and self-heal


The survey found ninety-four different species, including white clover, spear thistle, creeping buttercup, wood forget-me-not, field forget-me-not, common mouse-ear, self-heal, common vetch, creeping thistle, white dead-nettle, bird's-foot-trefoil, wild teasel, red campion, yellow-rattle, cat’s-ear, red clover, great burnet, ragwort, rough hawkbit, prickly sow-thistle, sorrel, foxglove, hedge woundwort, yarrow, oxeye daisy, hoary willowherb and broad-leaved willowherb.

 Common vetch


Corky-fruited Water-dropwort


We also found some corky-fruited water-dropwort (oenanthe pimpinelloides). This is exciting, as it is a new species for Leicestershire!


Usually, it is found in South West England and South Wales, so we had to arrange a return visit from the botanist to verify it. Friends of ours nearby also have it at their site (we’ve taken cuttings from their meadow before to propagate new species), so this might become more common in the area.

Corky-fruited water-dropwort




Even though we needed to reduce the grass in order to give the wildflowers a chance, we are still keen to encourage biodiversity in our grass species. Grasses are flowers, too, but because their pollen is carried by the wind, they have no need to use energy creating fancy petals and sepals to attract insects.



Grass species in our meadow include Yorkshire-fog, red fescue, crested dog’s-tail, sweet vernal-grass, common bent, meadow foxtail, smaller cat’s-tail, perennial rye-grass and field wood-rush.

Come back soon for more wildflower updates!


Find Out More


If you’re interested in conservation and wildlife, we have a Conservation blog series that looks at wildlife and human interaction all over the world, from the altitudes of the Himalayas to the dense mangrove forests of Bangladesh!


We also offer online private tuition in our course, Culture and Conservation, in which you can explore the links between our natural and cultural heritage and study wildlife and cultures from across the world! This is a template of a possible study route and can be combined, adapted, or designed from scratch to suit your interests and goals.


Dr. Orton will work with you to design a course of private tutorials tailored to your needs, ability and schedule. Click the link to find out what it’s like to work with her and contact us to find out more!


Do More


Even if you don’t have a big garden, there are plenty of things you can do to help biodiversity in your area. Why not put up a solitary bee nesting box or insect home, create a woodpile as a habitat for small creatures or leave small areas of your garden to go wild? For more inspiration, click the link to read about how we created a wildlife pond.

Rough hawkbit


Think about your own area and how you can protect vulnerable but important parts of your own environment. You might even want to start your own project investigating the cultural importance of wildlife in your area. Dr. Orton works with independent scholars undertaking their own research for an independent project, people writing a book or simply those who have a personal interest. Click the link to find out what it’s like to work with her and contact us to get started!

Cat’s Ear

Reach Out


We’d love to see what you’re doing to help wildlife in your area. Follow the Conservation highlight reel on the Orton Academy Instagram to see what we’re getting up to and tag us in to any snaps you put up!

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