Page last updated at 10:21 GMT, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 11:21 UK

Orchids reappear after 10 years

Pyramidal orchid on Coombe Bissett Down Wiltshire
The orchid has signalled a slow return of wildflowers to farmed land

Wild flowers including 25 pyramidal orchids have appeared in a field in Wiltshire 10 years after the grassland was reclaimed from arable farming.

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust seeded the land at Coombe Bissett Down in 1998 with many wildflowers including the orchid "Anacamptis pyramidalis".

Other seeds included devil's bit scabious, fairy flax, eye bright, cowslips and red bartisia.

It is part of the trust's three-year New Life for Chalk Grasslands Project.

'Best year yet'

Coombe Bissett Down, near Salisbury, is a Wiltshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve and the orchid represents a slow return of wildflowers to farmed land.

The trust's project to restore the chalk grassland includes a small farming enterprise which will supply cattle and native breed sheep for grazing to local landowners.

The animals help to manage the land and protect the wildflowers as they keep down the brambles, hawthorns and coarse grasses which, when left unattended, shade out the flowers

Catherine Hosie, from the trust, said: "Twelve years ago this field was full of swaying barley with not a flower in sight.

"Since we seeded the field and took over its management we have seen more and more wild flowers creeping in.

"This is the best year yet - we've even found one fragrant orchid, which usually takes a long time to colonise a place."

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