Planting for the Future

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Leaders Romans Group supported the planting of 7 hectares of wildflowers in the UK across 2023-2024

Leaders Romans Group has taken action to restore wildflower meadows, one of the rarest habitats in the UK that is essential for the protection and survival of insects.

Wildflower meadows provide insects with food, shelter and transport links across countries in the UK where biodiversity has been depleted by habitat loss, development and intensive farming. World leading study, State of Nature confirms the UK as one of the world’s most nature depleted countries, with 1 in 6 of more than 10,000 species assessed (16%) at risk of being lost from Great Britain.

Pollinators are critical to food chains and as such, wildlfower meadows provide valuable support for wildlife and all life on earth, including humans. In the words of Kew Gardens, ’The more wildflowers there are, the more diverse pollinators they can support, and the more healthy crops we can grow.’

Our solution is to restore B-Lines - a network of insect pathways along which we are restoring and creating wildflower rich habitat. These insect super highways created in partnership with GreenTheUK and Buglife will extend across the whole of the UK, allowing wildlife to move freely through our countryside and towns. Thanks to support from Leaders Romans Group, a network of flower-rich pathways that benefits pollinators, other wildlife, and people has been created.

Leaders Romans Group has supported the planting of 7 hectares of wildflowers, with 6.5 ha already in the ground. A further 0.5 ha will be planted in the autumn which will be added to this case study in due course.

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Wildflower Planting in Surrey (1 hectare)

Leaders Romans Group's sponsorship has gone towards clearing invasive Scott’s Pine over a hectare of priority heathland habitat at Surrey’s Wisley Common. Surrey has lost 85% of its heaths in the last 200 years, so this work is important to protect the remainder. Heathland habitats support diverse assemblages of invertebrate and other species, including many specialist species that aren’t found anywhere else. In fact, heathland habitats support more bee species than any other UK habitat, with Surrey additionally home to more known bee species than any other UK county. In October 2023, a team from Leaders Romans Group helped with tree popping in preparation for the wildflower meadow.

Wisley is a nationally important site for dragonflies and damselflies, with twenty species recorded. It also attracts many rare birds, including the hobby, which is one of the few creatures that can actually catch dragonflies. While the clearance works may initially appear harsh, the bare patches of bare soil will soon be colonised with purple heather and acid grassland. If left unchecked, invasive Scott’s Pine would out shade Wisley’s flowering plant communities, leaving little food for the rare pollinators and other invertebrates onsite.

Wildflower Planting in London (0.2 hectares)

Located in Southwark, the site surrounding the Canopi building has been adapted for pollinators through the addition of wildflowers seeds, invertebrate friendly features such as bug hotels, log piles, compost heaps and much more.

Volunteers from local LRG teams came together to help enhance this space in Spring 2024. Paving stones from the area were removed to make space for and then used to form the walls of the newly built raised garden. The style of garden, a 'hugelkultur', which is a type of garden that utilises wooden branches underneath compost and soil, was chosen as it will continue to provide nutrients to the plants as they decompose. The team had to clear the site to begin with, then layer vast amounts of wooden logs and branches before shovelling a tonne of mulch and compost to build up the garden bed. Once the final wall of repurposed paving stones was put in place, the LRG team planted a myriad of trees, wildflowers, and other plants to benefit local wildlife, creating an oasis of greenery in a majority-concrete area. Their work is the latest addition to to a number of new greenspaces surrounding the Canopi building that were all once covered in paving stones, making it an important hub for various birds, small mammals, insects, and other pollinators in the centre of London.

Wildflower Planting in Norfolk (1 hectare)

Along the River Bure in Norfolk, Leaders Romans Group supported the planting of native wildflower species to support local biodiversity. Local volunteers assisted with the planting in a publically accesible area popular with the community. Overcrowding nettles and brambles were pushed back to provide space for the plug plants, which included species such as betony, wild marjoram, hyssop, field scabious, birdsfoot trefoil, wild clary, meadow cranesbill, giant knapweed, clustered bellflower, wild thyme, and comfrey.

Wildflower Planting in Suffolk (2.2 hectares)

The site is a ten hectare field recently purchased by Elmswell Parish Council as part of panning gain from a new housing estate being built adjacent to the area. The site has been enhanced for pollinators by planting of flowering native hedgerow around the entire boundary along with a significant wildflower margin. The bulk of the site is being turned over to football pitches and similar for the local community but all the awkward edges and similar bits have been turned over for wildflowers. The wildflower work was done by seeding a standard wildflower after the site had been harrowed by a local farmer, residents and councillors spread seed across the allocated areas. The hedging plants included: hawthorn, blackthorn, guelder rose, dog rose, dogwood, hazel and wild plum.

Wildflower Planting in Greater Manchester (1 hectare)

In the suburbs of Manchester, Leaders Romans Group sponsored the planting of native wildflower meadows across two community greenspaces, Didsbury Park and Peel Hall. The planting was completed with the help of local groups: Didsbury in Bloom and Peel Hall Moat Watch. Wildflower bulbs were planted across local parks to create essential habitat for protected species.

In October 2023, a team from Leaders Romans Group spent the morning clearing planters in Didsbury village in preperation for Autumn planting. Didsbury village is a great spot for pollinators with the local group, Didsbury in Bloom, having won Britain in Bloom awards for their dedication to planting. Another group of volunteers joined us in the afternoon at Wythenshaw Park for a different type of volunteering. Volunteers helped with weeding around establishing trees and laid mulch to protect them. Following this, bulbs were planted in the park for wildlife and locals to enjoy.

Wildflower Planting in Northamptonshire (1 hectare)

On another important river, the River Nene, a wildflower meadow was planted using plugs outside the Nene Business Centre. As an important hub of biodiversity, the creation of habitat is vital to protecting local species which include a variety of invertebrates and riverside birds.

Wildflower Planting in Staffordshire (0.1 hectares)

Wildflowers seeds and plants have scattered across gardens and public spaces around the area of Ipstones by local residents and the Parish Council to enhance the whole village for pollinators. This allow the whole village to be a significant spot on the B-Lines network as a fantastic hub for pollinators and other invertebrates. The main wildflower sowing was done in an area with plenty of apple trees to bolster an existing insect habitat.

Grasses & Wildflowers Planted

Common Bent

Common Bent: Agrostis Castellana

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Common Bent: Agrostis Castellana

This slightly wispy, bristly perennial grass grows quickly. It is also known as highland bent, and is often found on roadsides or in wildflower meadows. Common bent is what is known as a hyperaccumulator of zinc and lead, which means it can grow in soils with a high concentration of those metals.

Creeping Bent

Creeping Bent: Agrostis Stolonifera

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Creeping Bent: Agrostis Stolonifera

As you might expect, this perennial grass creeps along the ground, then bends and grows upwards. It can be found growing in all sorts of locations, including ditches, meadows and wetlands. Specially managed varieties of creeping bent are often used on golf courses.

Crested Dog’s-tail

Crested Dog’s-tail: Cynosurus Cristatus

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Crested Dog’s-tail: Cynosurus Cristatus

This common perennial grass grows in tufts in lowland areas where there isn’t too much water. Crested dog’s-tail is stiff and used to be used for making bonnets. It germinates quickly but takes quite a while to grow, so it doesn’t compete against and dominate other species in the wildflower meadow.

Sheep’s Fescue

Sheep’s Fescue: Festuca Ovina

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Sheep’s Fescue: Festuca Ovina

This narrow-leaved grass grows in tufts and is slightly spiky in appearance. It fares well in loamy soil and is often found growing in pasturelands where, as you might expect from the name, sheep like to graze on it. Sheep’s fescue has very dense bunches of roots, which makes it tricky for weeds to take hold nearby.

Smooth-stalked Meadow Grass

Smooth-stalked Meadow Grass: Poa Pratensis

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Smooth-stalked Meadow Grass: Poa Pratensis

This perennial grass species likes to grow in fertile, well-drained soil. It is a valuable pasture plant and is often used to make lawns in parks and gardens. Poa pratensis is also known as Kentucky bluegrass, and in the USA, it is used as a playing surface in both American Football and Major League Baseball.

Small-leaved Timothy

Small-leaved Timothy: Phleum Pratense ssp Bertolinii

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Small-leaved Timothy: Phleum Pratense ssp Bertolinii

This grass is named after Timothy Hanson, an American farmer who introduced it to the United States in the early 1700s. Timothy grass is a common trigger for those who suffer from seasonal allergies, but its pollen has been used in the development of a hay fever vaccine. Timothy hay is a popular treat for many animals, from small pets to thoroughbred racehorses.

Lady’s Bedstraw

Lady’s Bedstraw: Galium Verum

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Lady’s Bedstraw: Galium Verum

You can recognise this plant by the stunning clusters of bright yellow flowers which burst forth in the summer months and smell faintly of honey. When dried, Lady’s Bedstraw has a scent reminiscent of hay, and it used to be used to stuff mattresses, especially for women who were about to go into labour, which is probably how it got its interesting name. It was also commonly used to curdle milk to make cheese!

Black Medick

Black Medick: Medicago Lupulina

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Black Medick: Medicago Lupulina

Also known as hop clover, this annual or short-lived perennial plant sprawls out along the ground and has small clusters of yellow flowers. The flowers are rich in nectar and attractive to bees; the blooms later turn into small black seed pods. Sheep like to graze on black medick, but cattle are not too fond of the taste.

Salad Burnet

Salad Burnet: Sanguisorba Minor

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Salad Burnet: Sanguisorba Minor

Salad burnet has a taste that is somewhat reminiscent of cucumber, making it a popular kitchen garden plant for use in drinks, salads, sauces and elsewhere. In the 1600s, English settlers took it with them to the New World where it quickly became a popular delicacy, and Thomas Jefferson was known to be a fan. He wasn’t the only one; Sir Francis Bacon suggested planting salad burnet along pathways to perfume the air.

Bladder Campion

Bladder Campion: Silene Vulgaris

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Bladder Campion: Silene Vulgaris

This common wildflower gets its name from the balloon-like bulge that sits behind its petals. You can spot its white flowers growing in meadows, grassland and hedgerows between May and September. Bladder campion leaves are widely eaten in the Mediterranean; you’ll find bunches of them for sale in Cyprus, in Italy they are used to flavour risottos, while in Spain, they used to be added to the cold soup gazpacho.

Wild Carrot

Wild Carrot: Daucus Carota

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Wild Carrot: Daucus Carota

This biennial herbaceous plant is closely related to the carrots we grow and eat today. If you dig up the roots early enough, they are edible, but by the time the flowers appear, they will be too old and woody to eat. Wild carrot flowers are small and white, which is how this plant got its other name: Queen Anne’s lace.

Common Cat’s-ear

Common Cat’s-ear: Hypochaeris Radicata

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Common Cat’s-ear: Hypochaeris Radicata

These bright yellow flowers can be found growing in grassy areas all over the UK, from roadside verges to parks and meadows. This plant has an impressive rosette of leaves, which means it is often mistaken for the dandelion. The common cat’s-ear can be frustrating for gardeners, as it uses its strong root to anchor itself to the ground before springing up on lawns.

Cornflower

Cornflower: Centaurea Cyanus

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Cornflower: Centaurea Cyanus

This annual plant is native to Europe and best-known for its striking blue flowers which bloom from late spring into early summer. The cornflower’s vibrant petals are a magnet for butterflies and bees. The flower is also called “the bachelor’s button”; possibly because they were commonly worn by single men and women hoping to find love, or maybe because they resemble buttons that require very little sewing!

Cowslip

Cowslip: Primula Veris

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Cowslip: Primula Veris

You can recognise the cowslip by its clusters of drooping bell-shaped yellow flowers which make a cheery addition to meadows and woodlands. Cowslips are very strongly associated with springtime and Easter, thriving on chalky soils where they flower between April and May. They were traditionally picked to make May Day garlands and wedding decorations.

Field Forget-me-not

Field Forget-me-not: Myosotis Arvensis

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Field Forget-me-not: Myosotis Arvensis

You might well spot these small, pale blue flowers growing by the side of the road, or else on dry, arable land. Field forget-me-not seeds should be sown in the autumn, so that they can flower in the spring and summer, attracting bees, butterflies and other insects. According to Greek myth, it is so-called because when Zeus was naming the plants, this little blue flower feared being left out and shouted, “Forget me not!”.

Autumn Hawkbit

Autumn Hawkbit: Leontodon Autumnalis

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Autumn Hawkbit: Leontodon Autumnalis

The autumn hawkbit shares part of its name with the dandelion because the two flowers are really very similar. This grassland perennial’s yellow rosette flowers are in full bloom from June to October. Unlike its hairy cousin, the rough hawkbit, the autumn variety has slender, almost hairless leaves.

Rough Hawkbit

Rough Hawkbit: Leontodon Hispidus

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Rough Hawkbit: Leontodon Hispidus

The rough hawkbit is a rather hairy plant which fares best in the full sunshine. It looks quite a lot like the dandelion and shares its famously diuretic properties. Hawkbits have a sweet smell, like honey.

Hoary Plantain

Hoary Plantain: Plantago Media

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Hoary Plantain: Plantago Media

You’re most likely to see this perennial in England between the months of May and August. The hoary plantain has a rosette of leaves at its base, a slim stem and delicate pinkish-white flowers growing out of a thick spike at the top. This plant grows best in dry grassland areas, especially where there is chalk or limestone soil.

Ragged-robin

Ragged-robin: Lychnis Flos-cuculi

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Ragged-robin: Lychnis Flos-cuculi

Ragged-robin gets its name from its pink flowers which look almost as though they have been shredded. The number of these star-shaped wildflowers is declining here in the UK. They grow particularly well in damp places, where they are a haven for butterflies, bees and other insects.

Self-heal

Self-heal: Prunella Vulgaris

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Self-heal: Prunella Vulgaris

Self-heal’s bright purple flowers grow close to the ground in meadows and grasslands as well as by the side of the road and on lawns. It is in bloom between June and October. As you might expect from the name, this small plant has long been used in herbal medicine to treat a number of ailments.

Sheep’s Sorrel

Sheep’s Sorrel: Rumex Acetosella

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Sheep’s Sorrel: Rumex Acetosella

Sheep’s sorrel leaves look a little like spinach, and they are widely used in salads or as a garnish. The plant has a citrus taste, so it features in both sweet and savoury dishes. Sheep’s sorrel grows quickly and has small, red flowers which are pollinated by the wind.

Common Toadflax

Common Toadflax: Linaria Vulgaris

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Common Toadflax: Linaria Vulgaris

The common toadflax has creamy orange and yellow flowers and is often found growing on wasteland and by the side of the road. It is very popular with bumblebees and honeybees. Common toadflax is also known by the nickname “butter-and-eggs” because of the colour of its petals.

Bird’s-foot Trefoil

Bird’s-foot Trefoil: Lotus Corniculatus

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Bird’s-foot Trefoil: Lotus Corniculatus

Bird’s-foot trefoil is already a pretty great name, but this plant has many other exciting aliases, including “hen and chickens” and “eggs and bacon”. These colourful names refer to the plant’s red and yellow flowers. Its seed pods are reminiscent of a bird’s claws.

Kidney Vetch

Kidney Vetch: Anthyllis Vulneraria

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Kidney Vetch: Anthyllis Vulneraria

Also known as lady’s fingers or devil’s claws, these slightly woolly-looking bright yellow flowers bloom from June to September. The kidney vetch thrives on sand dunes and cliffs and can be found dotted around the UK coastline. This plant used to be known as “woundwort” and was used as a herbal remedy for cuts and bruises

Yarrow

Yarrow: Achillea Millefolium

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Yarrow: Achillea Millefolium

This hardy perennial has a slightly aniseed taste and can be made into tea; in the Middle Ages, it was used to flavour beer. Centuries ago, Yarrow was used to heal wounds and stop bleeding, but it was also thought to start nosebleeds, and still has the nickname “nosebleed plant”. Starlings and other birds use yarrow to line their nests.

Yellow-rattle

Yellow-rattle: Rhinanthus Minor

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Yellow-rattle: Rhinanthus Minor

This plant’s yellow flowers are in bloom from May to September. It makes a popular addition to any wildflower meadow, as it feeds off the nutrients in other grasses, reducing competition between species. Its seeds grow in brown pods which make a slight rattling sound.

Wild Foxglove

Wild Foxglove: Digitalis Purpurea

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Wild Foxglove: Digitalis Purpurea

Famous for its distinct look and potent poison, Wild Foxglove is a very popular addition to home gardens across the world. This beautiful flower sports a number of colours, ranging from purple, pink, yellow, and even white. Beyond looking pretty, Foxglove’s toxin is the source of digoxin, an important heart medication used worldwide. It is also one of the first wildflowers to reappear after a site has been disturbed by construction, tree felling, or other incidents, making it an important species for reintroducing biodiversity to an area.

Musk Mallow

Musk Mallow: Malva Moschata

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Musk Mallow: Malva Moschata

Musk Mallow is a beautiful flowering plant with pink saucer-shaped petals with an attractive scent and as such is typically grown as an ornamental plant. It is native to most of Europe and southwestern Asia, preferring dry yet fertile soils and is commonly found in hedgerows. Numerous bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects are commonly attracted to the musky fragrance.

Common St John's-wort

Common St John's-wort: Hypericum perforatum

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Common St John's-wort: Hypericum perforatum

As a metre-tall flowering plant with distinctly black-spotted yellow petals, St John’s-wort is hard to miss. This plant produces a number of highly active chemical compounds which range from being harmful deterrents to large herbivores, to being extremely useful in a variety of medicines and being used as far back as the first century AD. While St John’s-wort tries to deter mammals, a number of insect species rely on it as a food source. Chrysolina hyperici, aptly called the Saint John's-wort beetle feeds on St John’s-wort and related plants.

Viper's-bugloss

Viper's-bugloss: Echium vulgare

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Viper's-bugloss: Echium vulgare

Also known as blueweed for its vibrant blue flowers, Viper’s-bugloss is a native species that had its roots used as a treatment for snake bites, particularly vipers, in ancient times. It is commonly found growing in coastal areas and areas of unimproved grassland and chalk downland where it is a fan-favourite of Burnet Moths and Red Mason Bees. Due to its fondness of dryer soils, it is particularly well suited to dry gardens in areas prone to drought.

Meadow Crane's-bill

Meadow Crane's-bill: Geranium pratense

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Meadow Crane's-bill: Geranium pratense

Meadow Crane’s-bill is a famously popular member of the family Geraniaceae. Growing in clumps up to 1 metre across, they have hairy stems and with saucer-shaped blooms of 5 pale violet petals. Numerous cultivars (a kind of cultivated plant that people have selected for desired traits and which retains those traits when propagated) have been grown and are available for anyone to acquire, some of which have even gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Field Scabious

Field Scabious: Knautia arvensis

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Field Scabious: Knautia arvensis

These vibrant bluish-purple flowers are related to the honeysuckle, rich in nectar and attractive to insects, especially bees. They are also known as “pincushion flowers” because they have short petals with little stamens sticking out of them. This flower gets its name from the Latin word for itch, because it was once believed to be a remedy for the skin disease scabies.

Betony

Betony: Stachys officinalis

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Betony: Stachys officinalis

Deriving its name from the Greek “stachys” meaning “ear of grain,” the commonly called Purple Betony has a spiked shape inflorescence (the arrangement of the flowers on a plant). Purple Betony has a long and detailed history, even being referenced in Pliny the Elder who claimed it was 'a plant more highly esteemed than any other.' Showing up in numerous books over the millenia, many uses for the plant have been described such as: having dream-controlling properties, an old remedy for arthritis and gout, being used to make wine and holy water, and witchcraft.

Corn Cockle

Corn Cockle: Agrostemma githago

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Corn Cockle: Agrostemma githago

Corn Cockle’s flowers are scentless but range from deep pink to purple, with each petal bearing two or three discontinuous black lines. It was once extremely common in the 19th century, showing up as a weed in wheat fields. Due to the increase of intensive mechanised farming, Corn Cockle is now uncommon and at risk in many countries, and was even thought to be extinct in the UK until a single specimen was found growing in Sunderland in 2014. Every part of the plant is poisonous, containing a number of triterpene saponins, yet it is still used in folk medicine.

Common Poppy

Common Poppy: Papaver rhoeas

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Common Poppy: Papaver rhoeas

The Common Poppy, a symbol of remembrance used since WW1 and commonly seen almost everywhere across the Commonwealth. The typically bright red flower is full of black edible seeds and has been used to make a variety of products from red dye to oil from the seeds. Poppies play a specific role in meadow and garden ecology, serving the needs of pollen-gathering/consuming insects as it produces a high amount of pollen but very little nectar.

Borage

Borage: Borago officinalis

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Borage: Borago officinalis

Also known as starflower, Borage is typically blue or pink with five, narrow pointed flowers resembling a star shape. It is a very common garden plant for its look and is also used heavily in companion planting to protect other species. It produces a lot of nectar, making it popular amongst honeybees and is also popular for a variety of culinary uses, ranging from a garnish in Pimms to a key component of salads.

Rudbeckia

Rudbeckia: Rudbeckia spp.

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Rudbeckia: Rudbeckia spp.

Hailing from North America, the Rudbeckia, or cone-flower, is very distinct with its bright yellow petals and prominent, raised central black-brown disc. There are over a dozen different species of Rudbeckia with many having become popular garden species. Their leaves are a favourite snack for caterpillars of certain species of moths and butterflies. The name Rudbeckia comes from Rudbeck, honouring Olof Rudbeck the Elder and Olof Rudbeck the Younger.

Fleabane

Fleabane: Erigeron spp.

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Fleabane: Erigeron spp.

Fleabane gets its English name from the belief that the dried flowers would repel fleas, however there is little modern evidence that it does so. The name fleabane actually refers to a number of different types of flower, with there being hundreds of fleabanes falling under the Erigeron species that are found across the globe, many of which are loved by butterflies and moths as food sources for their larvae.

Greater Knapweed

Greater Knapweed: Centaurea Scabiosa

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Greater Knapweed: Centaurea Scabiosa

Greater Knapweed, characterised by deep purple thistle-like flowers, blooms in summer and attracts butterflies and bees. Its rugged appearance lends it a robust presence in meadows. This wildflower has medieval associations with knighthood and chivalry.

Agrimony

Agrimony: Agrimonia eupatoria

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Agrimony: Agrimonia eupatoria

Agrimony is a herbaceous plant with slender spikes of small yellow flowers. It is mentioned in ancient medicinal texts by herbalists like Dioscorides and Pliny the Elder, and Shakespeare mentions its ability to ward off sleep and nightmares in “A Midsummer Night's Dream.” Its leaves emit a pleasant fragrance.

Marjoram

Marjoram: Origanum majorana

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Marjoram: Origanum majorana

Wild marjoram, loved by bees, other pollinating insects and humans alike, can be found on chalk or limestone grassland, hedge banks, woodland rides and scrub. Often called oregano in Europe, marjoram is best known as a pizza herb, and is important in both Greek and Italian cuisine. Wild Marjoram has been traditionally used to treat colds, indigestion and stomach upsets.

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Over time, this meadow should be home to a rich variety of wildlife which could include…

Bumblebees

Buff-tailed bumblebee: Bombus terrestris

Buff-tailed bumblebee

These are the giants of the bumblebee world, and the whole species is named after the buff colour of their queen’s tail. They can be found in the UK’s lowlands, nesting underground in very large groups. These insects are very fond of nectar, and if they can’t easily reach it with their tongues, they will bite a hole in the flower to suck it out.

Common Carder Bee: Bombus Pascuorum

Common Carder Bee

This relatively small ginger-coloured bumblebee is widespread throughout the UK, in habitats including farms, woods and gardens. Carder bees have very long tongues and feed on heather, clover and lavender. They often nest in old mouse runs and disused birds’ nests.

Red-tailed Bumblebee: Bombus Lapidarius

Red-tailed Bumblebee

This is an abundant species of bumblebee that is found all over the UK. This social bee nests in disused burrows, under stones or at the base of old dry stone walls. Both males and females have the eponymous red tails as well as velvety black bodies and transparent wings.

Honeybee and solitary bees

Honeybee: Apis Mellifera

Honeybee

Honeybees have six legs, four wings and five eyes. They use the Sun, and possibly the Earth’s magnetic fields, to navigate, and they can fly at speeds of up to 20mph when in search of food. At the height of summer there are around 40,000 honeybees in each hive, and that number drops to around 5,000 in the winter.

Solitary Bee: Osmia Rufa

Solitary Bee

Also known as the red mason bee, this insect can be found in cities, towns and villages across Britain and Europe. Females make their homes and lay their eggs in wall cavities, under roof tiles and even inside keyholes, lining their nests with mud. These bees are excellent pollinators, particularly of apple trees.

Tawny Mining Bee: Andrena Fulva

Tawny Mining Bee

These furry, ginger bees are commonly found in parks and gardens across southern Britain during April and May. They feed from a wide variety of plants including dandelions, buttercups, willows and fruit trees. Tawny mining bees often make their nests in lawns and flowerbeds or in orchards where they can be close to apple, pear and cherry blossom for example.

A Leaf-cutter Bee: Megachile Centuncularis

A Leaf-cutter Bee

As the name suggests, if you spot semi-circular holes in leaves, it’s a sign that this bee has been at work in your garden. The insect then carries the little pieces of leaf back to its nest, gluing them together with saliva to build cells for their larvae. You can spot this bee from April to August when it flies around feeding on pollen and nectar.

Hoverflies and other flies

Marmalade Hoverfly: Episyrphus Balteatus

Marmalade Hoverfly

The marmalade hoverfly is so-called because it is orange with black stripes that are thin or “thick cut” just like the popular preserve! It is Britain’s most common hoverfly and can be seen in parks, gardens, hedgerows and woods. They are present all year round, but numbers are often much higher in the summer when marmalade hoverflies migrate to the UK from abroad.

Drone Fly: Eristalis Tenax

Drone Fly

This insect’s patchy brown and orange body makes it look a lot like the male honeybee, which is a very effective way to keep it safe from predators. Drone flies also copy honeybee flight patterns as they move around in search of nectar. Their larvae, nicknamed “rat-tailed maggots”, feed on rotting organic material in stagnant water.

Pellucid Hoverfly: Volucella Pellucens

Pellucid Hoverfly

This large black fly has a white stripe on its body and black spots on its transparent wings. It can be found throughout most of Britain and Ireland, and is often seen feasting on bramble flowers in hedgerows or on the edge of woodland. The larvae develop in wasp nests where they feed on detritus wasp grubs.

Large Narcissus Fly: Merodon Equestris

Large Narcissus Fly

This medium-sized hoverfly looks very much like a bumblebee, which provides great protection against predators. This insect loves warm, sunny spots full of flowers, like gardens in the summer. Females lay their eggs on the leaves of bulbous plants such as bluebells and daffodils, and the larvae then burrow into the bulbs, feeding on them and causing some damage.

Beetles

Soldier Beetle: Cantharis Rustica

Soldier Beetle

The soldier beetle makes its home in open woodland or anywhere where there is tall grass. These carnivorous predators are common throughout England and Wales, where they can be seen from May to July. The adults prefer to hunt for food on flowers, while their larvae live on the ground, feeding on a range of other creatures.

7-spot Ladybird: Coccinella Septempunctata

7-spot Ladybird

These ladybirds are easy to identify because, just as you might expect, they have a pattern of seven black spots on their red wing cases. They are our most common ladybirds, found in parks and gardens throughout the UK. Ladybirds use their bright colours to warn predators that they won’t taste good, but it doesn’t always work!

Rose Chafer: Cetonia Aurata

Rose Chafer

These beetles have distinctive green and purple-bronze iridescent bodies, making them easy to identify. They love crawling on flowers on sunny days, when they shimmer in the light and look even more striking. Their favourite source of food, as the name indicates, is the rose, and the dog rose in particular.

Flower Beetle: Oedeomera Nobilis

Flower Beetle

This beetle is so-called because the male of the species has large green bulges on its hind thighs, whereas the female does not. It used to be quite rare, but is now a very abundant species throughout the UK. You should be able to spot the adults without too much difficulty, as they like to feed on open flowers like daisies

Butterflies and Moths

Peacock Butterfly: Inachis Io

Peacock Butterfly

This common British butterfly gets its name from the large spots on its wings, which are reminiscent of peacock feathers. These markings help to scare off predators in the woods, gardens and parks where they live. They hibernate in winter, folding up their wings to show the dull undersides so that they can blend in with their surroundings while they sleep.

6-spot Burnet: Zygaena Filipendulae

6-spot Burnet

You are most likely to spot this medium-sized moth flying around in the daytime between June and August. It has six red spots on each of its glossy black forewings. If attacked, the burnet moth will release cyanide, so the spots serve as a warning to predators that this species is poisonous.

Red Admiral: Vanessa Atalanta

Red Admiral

These large red, white and black butterflies have very powerful wings. Most of the magnificent red admirals that we see in the UK start off in North Africa and migrate north, arriving here from late March onwards and staying until autumn. Male red admirals court their females for several hours before they begin mating.

Holly Blue: Celastrina Argiolus

Holly Blue

This stunning, vibrant, blue butterfly can be seen across most of the UK, but is most common in England and Wales. Caterpillars feed on holly and ivy buds, digging into them and eating what is inside. Holly blues are very popular in Finland, where they have been elevated to the status of national butterfly!

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly: Aglais Urticae

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

The small tortoiseshell is one of the UK’s most common and beloved butterfly species. Females lay their eggs on stinging nettles, before caterpillars hatch around ten days later. When courting, the males beat their antennae on the females’ hindwings.

Wasps

Common Wasp: Vespula Vulgaris

Common Wasp

Anyone who has ever tried to have a summer picnic will be familiar with this yellow and black striped insect which can be found all over the UK. Queens first come out of hibernation at the very start of spring and start to look for suitable nesting sites in a range of habitats. Wasps will try to eat anything sweet, and although we might think of them as pests, they are useful pollinators.

Ruby-tailed Wasp: Chrysis Ignita

Ruby-tailed Wasp

Ruby-tailed wasps are often called “cuckoo wasps” because they lay their eggs in other insects’ nests. Shiny and turquoise with a rich red abdomen, they are strikingly beautiful in appearance. Ruby-tailed wasps have a sting, but don’t tend to use it.

Mason Wasp: Ancistrocerus Parietum

Mason Wasp

This wasp is native to Europe and North America and gets its name because it likes to build its nests in walls. Mason wasps have black bodies with yellow stripes and narrow waists. Female mason wasps are slightly larger than males, and can control the gender of their offspring.

Red Wasp: Vespula Rufa

Red Wasp

This wasp is so-called because it has reddish-brown markings on its body. Red wasps make their nests in tree stumps, using leaf litter and soil. Badgers often destroy the nests, eating them along with the wasps, as their thick hair and skin protects them from being stung.

Rare Species

Shrill Carder Bee: Bombus Sylvarum

Shrill Carder Bee

The shrill carder bee is one one of the rarest bumblebees in the UK, and is only found in a handful of locations, including the Newport Wetlands in South Wales. This bee has a distinctly high-pitched buzz, which is why it got the moniker “shrill”. Carder bees have very long tongues which they stick into flowers so that they can suck nectar.

Brown-banded Carder Bee: Bombus Humilis

Brown-banded Carder Bee

The brown-banded carder bee is a bumblebee that favours heaths and dry, open grasslands. It has a chestnut-coloured thorax and strawberry-blond abdomen, but there are a few black hairs at the base of its wings. Populations have declined because of habitat loss, but this bee can be found in clusters in north Cornwall and Newport in South Wales, for example.

Small Scabious Mining Bee: Adrena Marginata

Small Scabious Mining Bee

The small scabious mining bee gets its name from the Devil’s-bit scabious flowers of which it is so fond. This small and nationally scarce bee species flies between mid-July and late September. A new population of this rare insect was discovered in Newport in 2020, thrilling experts who have feared for the future of the species.

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