Contributor: Judy Dunford
The verges of Orton parish have around 200 different wild flowers growing on them. This makes them some of the best
flower-rich verges in Cumbria, if not the country. There are a variety of soil types within the parish and these are reflected in
the verges. They range from acid bog to thin soil on top of limestone. Each soil type has it's own flowers as well as different soil
types. The verges are wide and have not been regularly cut, only grazed by cattle and sheep as they pass from one pasture to
For more seasonal pictures of wayside flowers see - 1. June 2. Mid and Late Summer 3. Orchids
Wild flowers need the level of nutrients in the soil to be low. If the nutrient level gets too high grasses take over from the
flowers and Cow parsley is the main flower growing. The farming in the area is less intensive than in many other parts of the
country which leads to less fertiliser, less herbicide and less insecticide being used. At the same time the area was not popular
with tourism so no-one felt the need to cut the verges throughout the summer, keeping them like lawns and killing all the
The flowers in their turn attract insects and the insects attract birds. As a result we also have a large variety of insects
during the summer months. In the autumn, when the flowers die back, many think that the verges are untidy. The seeds from
the plants provide food for small birds during the winter months. The root clumps also provide a warm, safe winter home for
a variety of small mammals such as mice, voles and shrews.
To keep the flowers on our verges we need to take care of them. They are being threatened by a large increase in vehicles
using our roads and by people disposing of garden waste on the verges introducing other species not normally found in Orton
Parish. The verges are also used by horse riders and trail bike riders as they are softer than the road. People who come out to spot as
many wild flowers as they can during the summer, photographing them and recording a GPS location to give to others greatly increases the numbers looking at the verges and the damage done by feet is increased.
These verges are part of the history of Orton Parish, they preserve the flowers which once grew in hay meadows. Help
keep them safe for future generations to enjoy.