A different kind of green

It was actually sunny today. What I call a proper winter’s day, with clear blue skies, sharp and bright colours, and a bit of a chill in the air to remind you that it isn’t, yet, quite Spring. The relief, after so very many days of drab grey skies and driving rain, was considerable. Sadly the rain in the night meant that the gardening I had in mind was out of the question, even on my well drained soil, so I went for a little stroll instead.

I grew up in a small close of houses that had been built on the site of the old vicarage, which was strangely placed on the very outskirts of our village, some distance from the church itself. It was an old village, there was a settlement there in pre Roman times, and it is mentioned in the Domesday Book. Unsurprisingly it had a village green, which, despite the lack of a duck pond, was occasionally used for gatherings. I vividly remember being one of the children to dance around the maypole, I seem to remember us getting hopelessly tangled.

I think I had always thought of village greens as being quintessentially English, but they are actually found in older settlements throughout mainland Europe, the UK, and the US. Typically an area of grassland at the center of a settlement, the village green was a shared resource, where the community could graze animals, gather for meetings or celebrations. In Cemaes we have not one, but two.

Harbour Village Green

The first is actually the Harbour, which I suppose makes sense given the official legal definition of a Village Green in the Commons Registration Act of 1965 as land:

  1. which has been allotted by or under any Act for the exercise or recreation of the inhabitants of any locality
  2. or on which the inhabitants of any locality have a customary right to indulge in lawful sports and pastimes
  3. or if it is land on which for not less than twenty years a significant number of the inhabitants of any locality, or of any neighbourhood within a locality, have indulged in lawful sports and pastimes as of right

Apparently, it has to be used “for 20 years without force, secrecy or request”!! So I suppose the harbour, being used for very many more than 20 years for the lawful sport of fishing, would definitely qualify.

Harbour Entrance

Cemaes Harbour

Still not exactly the traditional area of grass with a duck pond though, is it! Though we do have plenty of ducks…

The second village green is up on the headland above the beach closest to us.

Headland Village Green

No maypole here, but at least there is plenty of grass – that kind of tussocky, bouncy grass that makes you want to run and jump.

Twyn y Penrhyn Green

It’s a glorious spot, with panormaic views out across the bay, and the start of the section of coastal footpath that runs past Wylfa Power Station to Cemlyn. The coast here is fabulously rocky, with lots of those inlets which the waves make booming noises in as the tide rises.

Coastal path looking towards Wylfa

I have mentioned the spectacular rock formations in this area – indeed, in the whole Island – before, and in recognition of this Anglesey is an internationally recognized Geopark. The Anglesey Geopark project, GeoMôn, recently created a geotrail on this headland. Designed to help people understand the rich geologically structure of the area, there are a series of stone pillars with selections of rocks glued to them, one for each of the geological periods represented in the local rock formations. The pillars are spaced out around the village green, the distance between then being proportional to the distance between the geological time periods represented. Some day I would like to go on one of the guided walks that explains it all, but in the mean time, the information boards are, well, informative, and the range of rocks on display is staggering. I remain extremely ignorant, but the names are beguiling.

precambrian display pillar

Take the pre-cambrian era. The rocks here are Bluechist, Limestone, Jasper, Granite and Mica schist.

ordovician display pillar

My personal favourite, the Ordovician period display, which apparently consists of the rather boring-sounding Ironstone, Sandstone and Sinter. Actually I rather like the sound of Sinter, but goodness, who wouldn’t want to know more about the Ordovician period!

pebble erratics

I found the little pebble collection amusing, it is so reminiscent of what I – and various visitors – can be seen carting back from the beach. These are – I kid you not – “Pebble Erratics” from, wait for it, “many different ages”!!

I have always thought of geology as being rather a dusty subject, or have since I understood that you couldn’t “just do volcanos”, but I suspect that the right guide could enthuse children with these displays, particularly as you can then point to the places on the coast and beaches where you can find these rocks in situ, so to speak. I think it is wonderful that the trail is here, and I wouldn’t mind one of these bench sets in my garden, either, though I think pinching one would require the kind of heavy machinery that is likely to get you noticed, dead of night or not…

geomon table

Neither of the village greens in Cemaes is exactly what the term conjurs up, but I am grateful I live somewhere that has them both, and although the recycled plastic benches that the parish council has added to the headland since the GeoMôn display was created lack the romance of the stone benches, they are rather more comfortable to sit on, and today, just to be able to sit gazing out over the blue sea and sky was a welcome respite from the grey.

view from the green

There wasn’t a lot to look at, plant-wise, on my little jaunt, but I am really hoping one of you can enlighten my ignorance just a little bit, and tell me what this plant is?

mystery plant

It grows on either side of the lane leading up to the headland, and I have absolutely no idea what it is, and have so far failed to identify it online…Update: Thanks to Sue@Green Lane Allotments, who pointed me in the direction of mallows, I think it is a tree mallow…

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44 Comments


  1. Certainly a different kind of village green but with beautiful view.
    Is the plant some sort of mallow (maybe tree mallow)? as I can’t quite make out the leaf shapes..
    Sue@GLAllotments recently posted The nightshades


    1. Ah, mallow sounds about right, and it could well be a garden escapee…


    2. Oooh, yes, I think it’s a tree mallow! Thanks Sue.


    1. Thanks Jessica, I don’t think it is going to be too bad round here – stay safe yourself, sounds as if your neck of the woods is copping it pretty badly at the moment.


  2. We love the poetic and romantic tone of your post regarding the not so traditional village green duo you have where you live. They may not be traditional and certainly not what you usually associate with maypoles but they are certainly very beautiful in their own right!
    Mark and Gaz recently posted Favourite Plant of the Week – Dicksonia antarctica


    1. Thanks guys! I do love this area, I am very lucky, and the blue sky was wonderful to be out and about under. Wonder when it will be back…


  3. Oh, I’m so glad you’ve had some pleasant weather! Sometimes not being able to garden isn’t a bad thing, not when you have such beautiful places to walk instead. I can’t see either of your village greens being conducive to a peaceful game of croquet… In the little town in Vermont where I used to live, it used to be the law (long ago) that people charged with drunken and disorderly conduct had to clear the village green of tree stumps. It was a very smooth village green, so one can only assume that a lot of badly behaved people used to live there.


    1. What a fabulous story Stacy, we could do with something similar here, the vilage green up on the headland is unfortunately frequently decorated with dog poo, so many dog owners seem to think it is fine not to pick up after their pooch. Sad, because it should be a safe and lovely place for children to play. Hope you are doing well Stacy, lovely to have you pop over!


  4. glad you had some sunny walking weather Janet, getting out does make such a difference, I suspect the high green would have been grazed and used more years ago, I think of the maypole dancing greens are english and even then more southerly than northerly, and I imagine in the usa village/town greens were brought in by the european invaders than from the indigenous people, so they are really european to me, not american,
    I love the geology, some years ago I used to read the blog of a geologist living on the isle of Mull, sadly he doesn’t post any more, the explanation posts with rocks is such a good idea, wishing you many more sunny days, Frances
    Island Threads recently posted pauses and glimpses


    1. Hi Frances, I agree about the US greens being essentially European, I must admit I was surprised to find they European-wide, I think I had always assumed they were English, too many chocolate box images of thatched cottages overlooking perfect grass and a duck pond. Lets hope we both have moresunny winter days Frances, it helps get through the darker days!


  5. That sunshine yesterday was welcome wasn’t it? I spent some of it zooming about Margaret’s fields (lots of fun) helping to collect a dead sheep (less so). Yours is a smashing spot, Janet and I’m so very pleased you haven’t been swamped or blown quite away. (I have the same ‘dog problem’ on the footpath that runs through the Priory grounds. Makes me so angry – especially when mowing and strimming!).D
    David Marsden recently posted Still Here, Still Gardening


    1. Hi Dave, not sure I like the sound of collecting a dead sheep, even with the zooming around bit, but mowing and strimming over dog poo? Eugh doesn’t even cover it. It would have me in a fine state of fury. Why are so many dog owners so inconsiderate? Mind you, our next door neighbour allows his dogs to use their whole back garden as a toilet, so go figure. Hope your beech hedges are surviving the seemingly never-ending rain.


  6. Lovely photos of your spot, your village greens are so different. I remember the one on the headland when we used to walk there. The village where we live now is also in the Domesday Book but we don’t have a village green, we all wish we did! The sunshine made such a difference didn’t it, but today we are having hailstones thrown at us, stay warm and safe.
    Pauline recently posted The calm before the latest storm.


    1. Hi Pauline, we are so very lucky. What a shame you don’t have a village green, they are such a lovely feature and resource. Is there anywhere you could turn (back?) in to one? Although the law has changed making it harder to get village green status. Its pouring with rain here again now, and it is almost horizontal thanks to the accompanying gale. I am grateful to have had yesterday – and for the way the witch hazel lights up the front garden even in the middle of a downpour.


    1. Thanks Flighty, the sun was a very welcome sight, and good to see the sea looking blue instead of grey too.


  7. Looks as if it was an absolutely glorious day for a walk Janet. I chuckled at the thought of trying to park or camp on that tussocky grass. Our nearest village green now has a Millenium Green (part of an initiative funded by the National Lottery) – obviously not as old as many village greens but still a space for the local community to cherish and enjoy. Sea cabbage came to my mind when I saw your mystery plant :)


    1. Hi Anna, I like the sound of a Millenium Green. It does look a little cabbagy, doesn’t it, but at the moment I am thinking tree mallow. Must keep and eye out for flowers later in the year…


  8. Your village greens don’t conform to what we expect them to look like, but they are much more fascinating than neatly tended grass and flowerbeds one imagines Janet.
    Scenery, surroundings and sun – perfect! Thanks for sharing your little part of the world with us.
    Angie recently posted Wordless Wednesday – She’s always first!


    1. Hi Angie only the toughest of plants would survive up on that headland green, I think the tussocky grass is perfect! Glad you enjoyed the mini tour and a does of blue sky.


    1. Hi Laura, thanks! It was so good to see some blue, it has all been so grey. The geology fascinates me, it is so dramatic round here. Hopefully one day I will make the time to educate myself a little. My Mum has been doing a course and she is in her 70s, so there is time yet!


  9. We have a maypole, but it’s in the commuter car park! No village green as such. Your grassy green overlooking the sea is beautiful – what a lovely view you have. That blue sky and sunshine can really lift the spirits!
    Cathy recently posted Winter Light


    1. Hi Cathy, a maypole in a car park doesn’t sound terribly convenient! Does it get used?! The views are terrific, out across the bay, and the dose of sun and blue sky was so very welcome. Looks as if it will be a while before it is repeated.


      1. Hi Janet, the maypole is given a face lift every year to be erected again on May 1st; the local voluntary fire brigade does it for a crate of beer! We don’t really have a May festival like most larger villages – I think we are just too small a community! I’ll have to try and get a decent photo of it this spring.
        Cathy recently posted What IS a Garden?


  10. Such a difference between views of blue sky and blue sea and grey ditto – glad you have been able to take advantage of some of the former. The idea of the harbour being officially ‘a green’ is an intriguing one, but I had to smile at Stacy’s comment about the very smooth village green where she used to live! My first thought on the plant was some sort of mallow too – have you been able to check it out? My Geography degree included a year of geology too and revising for exams I recall it suddenly becoming much clearer how the structure and shape of the UK came into being – that was a good many years ago now but I still retain that fascination for rocks and crystals and the lie of the land.
    Cathy recently posted She is Amazed


    1. Hi Cathy, the dose of blue was so very welcome, it had me grinning like an idiot! (Not that that’s unusal!) I do still find it starnge that the harbour is a green, the headland somehow makes more sense, though it is very exposed for grazing land. I think the mystery plant may be a tree mallow, but I don’t think I will really know until I see it flower – or not. Didn’t realise you read Geography, I remember loving learning about glaciation at school, and still enjoy spotting the signs when I am out in the mountains etc. I find the enormous timescales involved in the processes fascinating, so I am sure I would love to learn more if I ever manage to carve out the time for it.


  11. A village green doesn’t exist here but I wish it did. Do you speak Welsh? I’ll have to admit to being a rock lover. I’m always finding ways to add them to the garden. :)
    Casa Mariposa recently posted The Compatibility Conundrum


    1. I have a ridiculous collection of rocks to add to the garden already, I love them too, though I am still struggling to understand the local geology. No, I don’t – yet – speak Welsh, but TNG is getting pretty good. beautiful language but very hard to learn.


  12. I also had to think of mallows when I saw the foliage. Interesting post, Janet, I always thought og village greens as being English because they are not common in the part of Germany where I come from, but you see something similar here in France. Your landscape is beautiful and your pics made me want to join you! I think a lot of subjects are highly interesting, it’s just a matter of finding an enthusiastic and bright person to tell you about them. Have a nice sunday :)
    Annette recently posted Enchanted Wood


    1. Hi Annette, I think the plant may be a tree mallow, but I am still not sure! How interesting that greens were not common in your area of Germany, I must admit I hadn’t realised they were a Europe-phenomena until I came to do this post. It somehow fits my image of rural France that they should exist there. I agree completely about there being so many interesting subjects, finding the time to give them attention is the challenge. Hope your Sunday is a good one too!


  13. So different from my own place on the Atlantic, and so beautiful too. No rock here, unless it was brought in, just sand, lots and lots of sand built up over the millennia as the sea rose and fell. Apparently it is on the rise again.


    1. Hi Les, its amazing how different the character of a rocky coast is compared to a sandy one, isn’t it. There are some lovely sandy beaches on Anglesey, but however big they are, they are all bracketed by cliffs and rocky headlands. One of these days I must do a post about Newborough, one of largest sandy beaches, which you get to by walking through woodland. Different again, though nothing like the amazing landscapes you paddle and photograph.


  14. Two lovely public spaces – with spectacular views. I hadn’t realised that a village green could be anything except a square of well manicured grass overlooked by rows of smart houses, but yours are both rather fine! Our village doesn’t have a green as such, though the children run around in the fields and woods and churchyard, so there is plenty of space to share.
    hillwards recently posted Gold


    1. Hi Sara, I was more than a little confused when I first noticed the “Village Green” notice by the harbour – as you say, not exactly the conventional image one has! I suspect that woods, fields and churchyard are far more interesting than any village green, except perhaps a harbour. We never played on ours, it was way too small. The fields, on the other hand, were fabulous fun, as was the defunct railway cutting that ran behind our houses…


    1. Hi Donna, I am indeed most fortunate in my surroundings!


  15. A lovely post with some wonderful photos. You do live in such a beautiful part of the country. I loved discovering about your village greens – a village green which is actually a harbour is a new one for me. I wish I knew more about geology, too. I was put off a bit at school but it is a fascinating subject and there is so much to see on the coast. That sea looks fabulous in the sunshine.
    Wendy recently posted A Bee-Friendly Garden For Spring (1)


    1. Hi Wendy, thank you. I love the sea in all its moods, but I think it is definitely at its most beautiful when it is a deep shade of blue!


  16. What a beautiful place you live in! No, it’s not your typical village green, but I could sit on that stone bench and gaze at the sea forever. I know nothing about geology, but the rocks would fascinate me, too, thinking how many millions of years some of them have stood in this place.
    Rose recently posted Escaping Winter’s Chill With a Good Book


    1. Hi Rose, I do indeed, I love it here. The timescales involved in all those rock formations is totally mind boggling, it makes me feel even more foolish for getting impatient with plants in the garden that I think are being a little slow!


  17. What a lovely walk, thanks for sharing it with us. I’m late reading this but I was going to say Mallow too; they grow everywhere here, they nearly always become woody here, but I’m not so sure that is the variety or the conditions.
    Christina recently posted The slope on 6th February


    1. Hello Christina, somewhat bizarrely we spotted a third “village green” sign yesterday on our walk to the dentist. I’m still not sure if it means that the “harbour” green is much larger than I had thought, or we have three… It has to be a mallow of some sort, I had just never seen them grow so tall and woody before, plus I never seem to spot them in flower.

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