Helping Frenchay field flourish

A NINE-acre field in Frenchay is being turned into a wildflower meadow as part of a five-year nature project.

Tuckett Field was left to the community in 1928 by the widow of Francis Fox Tuckett, a local botanist and explorer, “for the benefit of the inhabitants of Frenchay”.

The field, which lies between Cleeve Hill, Beckspool Road and Frenchay Hill, and is also known as the saddleback or hilly field, will be planted with 70 species of flower later this year.

It is part of the Local Nature Action Plan drawn up by Winterbourne Parish Council, the field’s custodian.

The project is being financed by a £20,000 grant from the West of England Combined Authority’s Bee Bold Pollinator Fund and private donations.

Parish councillor Adrian Collins said the five year plan would be complete in time for the centenary of the field being given to Frenchay residents, in 2028.

The field is used by many local people for dog walking and picnics.

It is next to the National Trust’s Frenchay Moor, alongside the River Frome, which is subject to its own 20-year plan.

Cllr Collins said: “The WECA team who assessed our application were particularly impressed with the existing conservation and preservation work undertaken in Frenchay, which has involved local residents and Duke of Edinburgh award students being completely hands-on with many vital projects in a key conservation area.

“This award will facilitate continued community involvement, with many other local voluntary groups wanting to make a difference as the project gets under way.”

He said the WECA grant meant environmental work that will have a lasting benefit for residents could be carried out without using parish funds that are “needed for so many other deserving projects”, and other grant-giving organisations were now interested in providing support.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris visited the field as part of work to promote ‘No Mow May’, a drive to let lawns grow and flowers flourish during an important part of the year for bees and other wildlife.

He said: “Giving the mower a breather for a few extra weeks, and embracing a little more wildness in our gardens, really is so, so important – for our plants, our butterflies and of course, our bee buddies.”

Community planting days to sow the wildflower seeds are planned for the autumn, with local organisations Grow Wilder and Winterbourne Environmental Group involved.

Managed grazing by small dexter cattle, which are often used in rewilding projects, could also take place on both the Tuckett and National Trust fields.

A wetland pond on the site will also be enhanced, and new trees planted at the boundaries.

Once the wildflowers are established the area will be more attractive not just for pollinating insects but for the other wildlife that feeds on them, including birds, bats and other small mammals.