Planting for the Future

header image

Oakwood Agency supported the planting of 1 hectare in the UK across 2022-2023

Oakwood Agency is part of an imaginative and beautiful solution to the problem of the loss of flowers and pollinators in the UK. Not only are wildflowers attractive and beneficial to our well-being, but for the thousands of pollinating insects, wildflowers are critical.

Since 1940 we’ve lost ninety seven percent of our flower rich meadows and hundreds of our pollinator species are in decline. In areas, our local wildlife finds itself in isolated oases, walled in by agricultural land, urban landscapes, roads, and gardens.

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 Oakwood Agency, we have created a network of flower-rich pathways benefitting pollinators, other wildlife and people. The wildflowers were sown across 2022-2023.


Wildflower Restoration in Bristol (1 hectare)

The historic Siston Common still contains large areas of species rich semi-improved neutral grassland, where a diverse range of native wildflowers and meadow grasses are still found. These areas have never been ploughed or fertilised and have for centuries been continuously grazed by cattle and other animals until around 30 years ago. To compensate for the comparatively recent loss of grazing, grass cutting practices have been improved and refined in recent years to hep conserve and protect these precious grassland habitats.

The meadow area within the northern compartment of the Common is by comparison very much the ‘poor cousin’. The area is said to have been used as a dumping ground for some of Bristol’s WW11 bombsites, so unlike the rest of the common the land is very much disturbed. In later years the area was the recreational focus for the Common, used for informal football pitches, fairs and events. Although some of the grassland could still be broadly classified as semi-improved neutral grassland, it was far less species diverse, in poor condition and consisted mostly of ‘rank’ grass types.

Larg parts of the north meadow are classified as species poor, modified, semi-improved grassland. In line with the accepted approach to achieving biodiversity gains, through improving, expanding and better connecting habitats, work was undertaken in 2023 to increase plant diversity across the northern meadow to increase the amount of species rich grassland available and and expand the beneficial reach of Siston Common.

The entire northern meadow was scarified to expose 50% bare earth, before being seeded with wildflower and meadow grass seed that had been sustainably harvested from the nearby Yarley Meadows Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Surveys of Yarley Meadow have identified that in the region of 50 different plant varieties are found there. To ensure the new meadow made a visual impact in its first summer, some additional annual cornflower seed was added, and then to help to deter the return of the previously dominant vigorous grasses a good quantity of seed of the parasitic Yellow Rattle plant was also added.

To further consolidate the new meadow a mass planting event was held with the stated challenge of planting 10,000 wildflower plug plants. Most of the 10,000 plug plants were concentrated towards the end closest to the rest of the Common, thereby most effectively boosting the level of habitat connectivity. Again, a very diverse range of wildflower plug plants were used. The ‘10k Challenge’ event, held in 2023, attracted around 400 volunteers across the day. It was held in conjunction with an event to celebrate winners of the West of England Mayor’s Bee Bold Awards.

This Siston Common North meadow creation is a part of the larger WECA funded Common Connections project and as well as the support received from Oakwood Agency, the work to create the new meadow area also attracted support from the Enovert Community Trust.

UN's Sustainable Development Goals

As a GreenTheUK partner, you support projects that are in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

SDG Icon

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

SDG Icon

Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss.

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


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


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.


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.


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.

Supported By:

supported company logo

Project Partner:

partner logo GreenTheUK logo

Join Our Mailing List...