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