I’ve been a little disconcerted by this autumn. The weather has been so mild, for so long, that the sights I associate with autumn – leaves changing colour, rich tapestries of yellows, oranges and reds – have been largely absent. A recent trip to a local village reinforced this. Trees either still had green leaves or were totally bare, no autumn colour to speak of at all. The acer I inherited in the back garden is currently a dense dome of scarlet foliage, but until this morning the magnolia next to it had shown no sign of thinking it was time for its leaves to turn buttery yellow. The sycamore trees around here are bare silhouettes against the sky, their leaves just all turned brown and dropped off weeks ago, but the increasing number of posts by other bloggers showcasing autumn colour, and in particular Kate’s recent post on gorgeous autumn tints on the North Wales mainland, had me determined to hunt down some autumn colour of my own. So to speak. Yesterday was bright and sunny in the morning, so I bunked off the garden tidying that I should have been doing and headed out to the community woodland.

entrance to Cemaes woodland

That probably conjours images of winding pathways through dense stands of mature trees, perhaps with the occasional clearing. There are a couple of winding pathways, and there is a clearing, but the rather grandly named Cemaes Woodland is, how shall I put this, small! Five acres, to be precise, that until 2003 was just wasteland, a dumping ground on the edge of the village. Cwmni Cemaes Cyf is a community enterprise. They run a local heritage centre, and in 2003 they bought the area with the help of local grants and began planting it up as a woodland stocked with native species. Local children helped plant almost 3,000 native trees, mostly ash, birch and willow with some rowan, hawthorn and blackthorn. More recently a pond was created and the Cemaes in Bloom group got involved, taking on some of the maintenance and planting hundreds of bulbs. The entrance closest to us is just down the road, at the other end of the little beach. The path runs alongside a stream that in summer is totally full of truly monumental gunnera, currently an unsightly mess of collapsed stems and rotting leaves. I was delighted to note a distinct yellowish tinge to the willows.

willow turning yellow

Further along an ash tree was just starting to turn, and the birch trees perfectly demonstrated what this autumn has been like so far. On one side of the path, bare, on the other, just starting to think about turning.



I walked on along the main path to the pond area. The pond itself is almost totally choked with plants, but hopefully will be choked with frogspawn come spring.

pond area

choked pond

Taking the path on I came to a view that perfectly sums up why I love living here.

autumn sea view

Autumn tints, rolling countryside, and the sea. The range of different habitats in such a small area makes for a rich variety of experience for me, and no doubt a healthy environment for all sorts of wildlife.

I braved one of the narrow grass paths to the clearing and fell in love with bracken, of all things, before popping out at the top next to the small area taken over by the Cemaes in Bloom group. It houses a polytunnel used to propagate the plants used in the troughs and beds around the village, and that are sold at the plant sales each year, together with a small number of bijou allotments.


One of the reasons I was excited about coming to Cemaes was the presence of such an active “In Bloom” group, proving that there was a thriving community of gardeners in the village. So far my contact with them has been limited to giving them plants that I don’t want to keep, but in the future I would like to get more involved. They planted and maintain the shrub borders in the playingfields that lie between the woodland area and our house. The park is a great resource for the communuity, boasting a zipslide and a large fenced area for football, basketball etc.

playingfields entrance

This is where lots of the plants I gave them ended up, and earlier in the year I was sure I had spotted several of the rhododendrons, but on this visit I couldn’t spot them.

park border

park border

Again, there are faint tints of autumn, but nothing particularly dramatic.


At the bottom of the slope is a large stand of willows – the same willows that appear over the boundary of our back garden. In fact you can just glimpse rear dormer of our house and the cream wall of the extension.

park willows

And the autumn colour? Nothing dramatic – apart from our acer – but enough to bring me home with a sense of contentment. I’m trying a new Flickr plugin, would be interested to know what people think – clicking on the slideshow will bring it up full size or you can just keep it small. I think…

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48 thoughts on “Out and about: Cemaes Community Woodland

  1. I can’t believe how late autumn colour is this year – or how much further back you are than us. What an excellent idea, that community garden – wish we had one. We have got an active garden club, but more for shows and talks. There was a fleeting proposal that a patch of land, once a site for a few swings, should be turned into a small community orchard, but not much interest…

    And your view is lovely!

    1. Hi Kate, weird, isn’t it, how diferent our climates appear to be given how close we are – at least as the crow flies Or possibly the seagull. I’m impressed by the community gardening, not just the woodland, but the work along the riverside and at key points elsewhere around the village. There are some scarily committed women – and does seem to be all women – driving it all forward. A community orchard sounds such a great idea, we had one in our old village and it was wonderful, full of local species, and the focus of village and school events at various points in the year. A lot to take on though. But there is that welsh fruit nursery near Bangor…

      As for the view – well, yes, what can I say? Though you have a very fine view yourself now that The Tree has been felled.

  2. I was thinking much the same although our magnolia is now turning very yellow. Then we were in the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria yesterday and there was some beautiful colour there.

    1. H Sue, glad you got a good dose of colour, my magnolia is turning very quickly now, I’m sure it was more yellow when I came in this afternoon than when I was writing the post this morning!

  3. Our trees are only just starting to turn, very late this year, but hopefully we should get some good colour before they all blow away in a puff of wind! Your woodland walk is lovely, my favourite sort of walking, there is always so much to see, lucky you living so close to it.

    1. Hi Pauline, it is a bit of a strange autumn, isn’t it. it feels as if it has become a race between autumn and winter, particularly as the rumour is that it will be a cold one. And yes, I really love being so close to such a varied range of walks, from cliffs to woods to river to beach. They all give something different.

  4. This time of year is so lovely for walking. Never mind that there isn’t so much colour this autumn at least you can get out and enjoy the woodland. Your Acer makes up for the lack of other colour and how!

    1. Hi Christina the acer takes my breath away at the moment, I don’t remember it being this good last year, maybe it has enjoyed having a little more breathing room now that it isn’t competing with the aucubas and leylandii. It really is a good time of year for walking isn’t it, I nearly headed off on the cliff path but the lure of the trees was too great yesterday.

  5. The colors of autumn seemed to arrive later for us as well and not as dramatic as some years either. Nevertheless, you’ve found some lovely scenes and colors on your walk. How nice to have such a beautiful place to walk so close by. Your Japanese maple is gorgeous!

    1. Hi Rose, interesting that so many of us are experiencing a very tardy autumn. The woodland is a wonderful resource, and I am extremely lucky to have inherited the acer.

  6. Beech is the mainstay here and it is just now starting to turn, although the magnolia has lost its leaves. The Flickr plugin worked for me. It’s a good way of showing a lot of pics. Your acer is glorious, and did I spot the cotinus? That must be a picture too.

    1. Well spotted Jessica, that is indeed the cotinus, just beginning to turn! I have two beech trees here, both purple, one front and one back. The one out the front had the leaves stripped from it long before it coloured up, but the one in the back is just starting to come into its own. And I do love the way they hang on to their leaves all winter. Unless the gales get them…

    1. Hi Susan, glad to transport you! I was writing it in my jammies, accompanied by tea!

  7. Perhaps the late spring has an influence too as to why lots of plants are just turning now? Have to say I’m not complaining though, the longer the mildness persist the better (kinder to our heating bills too).

    It’s been a busy year for you all, perhaps next year you’ll the spare time to help out the In Bloom team. Or perhaps just carry on helping by giving plants :)

    1. I’ve wondered the same thing – about the late spring. Maybe our seasons are always going to tend to be more messed up nowadays, thanks to global warming. There certainly seem to be more violent weather events across the globe, just look at the Philipines now and presumably Vietnam. I agree about the mildness too, mich happier to see the level in the oil tank staying the same! As for plant donations, not so many, though perhaps some that I have grown myself. It will be nic to connect in with them all at some stage, though the woman in charge is very, mmm, forceful?! Not sure I want to reconnect with my old skills of dealing with such people, honed over years at work, I am much more mellow nowadays!

  8. The trees here don’t usually turn brilliant colors, except for every few years. I’ve heard (but don’t know for sure) that it has to do with rainfall or the lack thereof as well as temperatures. It looks to me like your trees there are just beginning to turn colors. Perhaps your autumn will be showing up in a few weeks!

    1. I’d heard the same thing about rainfall and temperature at crucial points in the year affecting autumn colour. I assume the combination of the late cold spring and the following long dry spell are responsible for the lack of dramatic fireworks, the acers seemingly the exception. Now I think it is a race between falling temperatures encouraging the leaf change and wind ripping them off the branches before they get going!

  9. Hi Janet – it has been so interesting to read your post and all the comments about trees in different places. We have been gradually losing some of our leaves, but next door’s beech was very early and our magnolia hasn’t even thought about turning yet. It’s lovely to have a resource like that on your doorstep, isn’t it?

    1. Hi Cathy, I’ve loved being able to compare different people’s experiences like this from the comments tehy leave! The woodland is a lovely thing to have on our doorstep, Cemaes packs a lot in to a very small area. My magnolia has just started to turn, likewise the cotinus, so I am hopeful that somthing will take over from the acer once it has lost its leaves.

  10. Hi Janet,

    This year has been very odd. There’s either been green, or black. Very little in between. My Acer ‘Garnet’ is a lovely red now, and since the start of November it’s become a lot drier (and therefore cooler) and I’ve started to see pretty colours – Willow for example. The other Acer ‘Katsura’ still hasn’t turned; it had the first signs weeks ago, but seems to have stayed green and not yet lost its leaves.

    Ah, I love woodlands walks at this time of year. For some reason it’s so much nicer in autumn and winter?? Strange. I find myself wanting to go to the park (it has woodland too) we lived near previously at this time of year, yet all summer I never go!

    1. Hi Liz, yes that’s exactly right, either black or green! I thought the willows had skipped autumn here because the ones in the park are pretty much bare, but those on the woodland are more sheltered and are lovely shades of yellow. Nice to have the display from your two acers staggered like that, I’d love to plant a second somewhere here, just have to work out where I can cram it in!! As for walking in woodland, I think summer is the only time of year that doesn’t work so well. Otherwise I think anywhere with trees cn be magical, and if you add in a healthy dose of wildflowers, pure heaven.

  11. It sounds like your community has got some good ideas with that lovely woodland with pond and spring bulbs. Hope you get a chance to become more involved with that. The view across the fields is very pretty, but I loved that picture with the berries and the sea in the background even more! (By the way, the slide show works perfectly on the laptop, but I had no luck last night on the iPad – just thought I’d let you know.) Have a good week Janet!

    1. Hi Cathy, I love that shot of the berries with the sea in the background too, so thank you! I really hope I will be able to get more involved with the “In Bloom” crowd, as you say, lots of great stuff going on fuelled by their enthusiasm. Thanks for letting me know about the slideshow, I have discovered the same problem with my android tablet, and am going to research alternatives.

  12. it looks like it was a nice walk Janet dispite the lack of autumn colour, your acer colour is beautiful and you don’t have to walk to see it, Frances

    1. Hi Frances, the acer positively blazes the colour is so vivid, I can see it when I glance out the window when I am at my desk, it cheers me up when I am stuck on a knotty techy problem!

  13. An enjoyable post and interesting pictures. As you say autumn colours are late this year.
    I’m sure that in the coming years that you’ll get more involved with the In Bloom group.
    I enjoyed the slide show, which I viewed on my desktop PC using Chrome. xx

    1. Hi Flighty, glad you enjoyed the slideshow – and good to learn that you are a fellow Chrome user! I need to find a slideshow that will work with tablets though. It will be good to get more involved with the Bloom gang in due course.

  14. Great pictures on your walkabout Janet. This has been the poorest year for Autumn colour in Aberdeen. Your slideshow worked fine with an added bonus when clicking on full screen.

    1. Hi Alistair, than you for taking time out to comment, you must be rather busy at the moment! I really like that the slideshow allows me to use photos straight from Flickr which means I can offer larger sizes without chewing up my storage limit, but it doesn’t work on mobile devices, so the hunt is on for a good alternative!

  15. Same here, Janet. Some of the oaks are taking on a bit of colour – others hardly at all. The tulip tree is doing pretty well but as much burnt brown edges as gorgeous yellow. I’m away in a few days for a week and wouldn’t be at all surprised if I miss whatever show there is going to be. Ho hum.

    1. Hi Dave, I think there may be some oak trees on the Island, in the south, nearer the straits, but none up this end. Poor frazzled tulip tree, that has happened to a lot of trees round here too. have a nice break, I hope there is some autumn colour for you to return to.

  16. Oh what a great place to have on your doorstep to stroll in Janet. The notice on the gate looks so inviting – not the sewage pumping station one :) What a difference there seems to be in the arrival of autumn colours. Here we definitely have those ‘rich tapestries of yellows, oranges and reds’. I wonder whether you’ve had any frosts yet as I suspect that might affect leaf colour. Enjoyed the slide show using Chrome on an iMac. Intrigued by your Flickr user name :)

    1. Isn’t it lovely Anna? If you ignore the pumping station ;-) I will try not to envy you your tapestry, hopefully we will get ours eventually – I noticed this morning that the plum tree over the way is colouring up, as is the rosa rugoas hedge. As to my Fllickr user name, Maia was the Roman goddess of spring, and the eldest of the Pleiades, which for some reason has always been my favourite constellation. ‘Maia’ was taken (it is, after all, a quite common first name in Germany), so I added the madness. Obvious really ;-)

  17. I’m not surprised you love living there! That combination of the country and the sea so close is magical. Your autumn is late, and our spring was early. Everything’s about 2 weeks ahead of usual and some of it was a bit surprised by a light frost last week, but it all seems to be okay. I wonder whether autumn colour that starts late will be more or less intense than usual.

    1. Hi Lyn, I know, what’s not to love! Is it my imagination or are the deviations from the usual in our seasons becoming greater? it certainly forces us to be more flexible as gardeners, and to garden based on what is actually happening rather than on “the rules” about what should be done when. Glad the frost doesn’t seem to have done damage. Our very late cold spell this last spring killed off some of my prized new plantings. I am still sulking about the epimediums!

  18. I like the slideshow! I’ll have to try that. I’m curious to know what you think of Flickr? I’ve been very happy with it–it seems more intuitive and organized than the tools available through Blogger. Yes, the diversity of habitats in your area would be wonderful. And to be so close to the sea … delightful!

    1. Hi Beth, I really like Flickr, particularly since they started giving so much storage with the free account. My only peeve at the moment is that I am finding it hard to find a gallery tool for wordpress that I like, that works with Flickr sets, and works on tablets and smart phones too. I love being this close to the sea. I was staining fence this afternoon, not the most exciting of jobs, but every time I took a break I could look up and see the sea. Magical.

  19. What beautiful countryside! I’ve heard plenty others speaking about the disappointing autumn this year though here in Perthshire we had great autumn colour. Your photographs remind me of what our landscape looked like in late September here. Loving your slideshow though I wish flickr would let it work for mobile users as so many people visit blogs via their phones these days.

    1. Hi Rosie, it is a beautiful Island, incredible variation in landscape for such a tiny area. I suspect the colder weather is what has given you such glorious autumn colour. If the wind doesn’t rip the foliage off we may still get some here too, it is certainly picking up the pace a little as the night time temperature drops, though the greenhouse has still only been down to 5C! I agree about Flickr and mobile devices, I am hunting for a better tool, but it is like searching for a needle in a haystack finding a good gallery plugin for wordpress that works with Flickr sets but isn’t flash-based and so works on tablets and smartphones.

  20. Seems strange to have to go in search of Autumn glory but as with here, the trees have either dropped their finery or are hanging on to their greenery like grim death! With such wonderful walks around there, a gardening community on hand and a new garden to make, I would not care if the Fall failed to catch fire. Your slideshow works perfectly and I like the transtional presentations especially because size is not compromised.p.s. I noted the note of Spring with the hope of frogspawn

    1. Hi Laura, I have to admit that I don’t care hugely either, still full of the bliss of living somewhere that suits us so perfectly, particularly on a day when I woke up to the noise of the waves crashing on the beach, surf sparkling in autumn sunshine! Besides, the rosa rugosa hedge over the way is turning beautiful shades of gold, so all is well in my world! And there is spring to look forward to… Glad you like the slideshow, just wish it worked on tablets and smartphones! The hunt continues…

  21. Even though it wasn’t a dramatic year for autumn foliage color, (here in my part of the world as well). However, the acer foliage is stunning! I enjoyed the visit to your nearby woodland. There is so much beauty in the trees and shrubs yet, and nice that you it so close by. I love the idea of the allotment gardens, too. What a great place to live!

    1. Hi Dorothy, thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment. The woodland will be amazing when it is older, as it is, it is still really pretty, and a great addition to the village. It is indeed a great place to live.

  22. Janet I enjoyed the walk and this beautiful wild area…so much in it and so peaceful…you live in such a gorgeous part of the world.

    This past week I was working with our State Education Department as they reviewed one of our schools. They also hired a company from the UK to help with the reviews and our reviewer is from South Wales…I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with her. She was a wonderful asset. She spoke fondly of her home in Wales.

    1. Hi Donna, glad you enjoyed the stroll around the neighbourhood. I smiled at your description of the woman raphsodising about her home in South Wales! I don’t know where abouts she comes from, but it is lovely down there, and I think there is something about coming from such a small country, and one not widely known outside of the UK, that makes people even more passionate about it when they travel abroad.

  23. That’s really interesting because, only yesterday, we were saying what an unusually bright and interesting autumn we are having here in Dorset. Some years the leaves go from green to mustard to dropping off and dead. This year, every autumn colour imaginable is there in our woods and hedgerows. Don’t know what makes autumn in one place and stops it turning on a show in another. Apart from a very late spring, the weather this year hasn’t struck me as specially different from others.

    1. Hi Esther, that is indeed interesting, I had assumed that everyone was experiencing something similar in terms of Autumn – everyone in the UK anyway – and that it was down to the late spring and then the dry spell in the summer. Glad to hear you have been enjoying full autumn splendour, I now have more perennials turning pretty shades, so I am feeling less miffed about the whole thing!

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