Six on Saturday: 02 Oct 2021: Musical Chairs

It’s the best time of year to be moving plants, but once you get started, it’s like an interminable game of Musical Chairs, digging up a plant, putting another in its place, then having to find a new place for the first plant, finding one that has an occupant, moving that occupant, and so on, then realising you’ve run out of places and have a load of cross plants hanging around like sour losers. I loved the party game as a child, but not the bit where there are two of you left playing and only one chair – inevitably this meant being sat on by a competitive six-year-old as if you were the chair. That said, moving the plants to a better place where they look more at home is a satisfying task, the earth is soft and one can get a spot of weeding done at the same time. It’s also the time of year for bulb planting, and I’ve got started with that, sticking narcissi in here and there, but as usual I’ve over-ordered and given myself too much work to do! Never mind, let’s look at six things this Saturday:

1 Queen bumblebees and leaf mould. Just as the leaves are starting to tumble from the trees, it’s time to check on last year’s leaf mould pile. Two delightful discoveries: firstly, I have some lovely, crumbly, rich leaf mould ready to use in time for bulb planting, and secondly, the back of the pile is home to several queen bumblebees who are bedding down for winter. They will emerge early next spring to feed and then create the new generation of bumblebees. Of course this means I will have to leave part of the leaf mould pile undisturbed, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay to lend a hand to the wildlife.

Two bumblebee queens – I hope I didn’t disturb them too much.

2 Viburnum opulus. A new but long-planned purchase. I went to a great tree nursery outside town that also has shrubs to get this. It’s the replacement for the forsythia which is coming out this autumn, no matter what. I chose this because it grows wild in the forest here, has long-lasting red berries, pretty leaves and pollinator-friendly flowers in spring. I’d say it’s going to work a lot harder than the forsythia.

3 Cyclamen hederifolium. I may have inadvertently picked these up at the tree nursery too. They are to go here on the shady side of the front path, which is in need of a good weeding. Good to see buds have formed on the rhododendron ‘Monarch’, such a show in late spring.

4 Carex oshimensis ‘Everest’. Did I mention I needed to do some weeding? Here’s some more, as the wild strawberries make a bid for border domination and need reigning in. The game of musical chairs also started here, as I decided to move the three uppermost Carex to the other side of the path, where they will get more light and create a more balanced effect on both sides of the path. In their place, I’ve put in some ajuga reptans from further down the path – I find this a great ground cover for shady spots, and the bees love it in flower.

5 Grapes. In a massive contrast to last year, when we harvested about 20 kilos of grapes, this year our vine has been very unhappy with the extremely humid weather we’ve had. I will give it a good feed of bonemeal, and hope that it does better next year. Most of the vines grown outdoors in Belgium look like this.

6 Autumn sunrises. To end on a more uplifting note, the sun is lower in the sky, rising much later now at around 07.30 a.m., but that means that from our east-facing house we are treated to some beautiful morning skies.

Thursday morning
Friday morning

You can see plenty more Six on Saturday posts on the Propagator’s site as always. I’ll no doubt pay a visit to the allotment, which still has thrilling novelty value, despite the fact that last time I was there I had to deal with a drowned rat in a water butt. I’ve cleared my patch of weeds, and tried my luck sowing some late oriental salad leaves, and edged the patch with narcissi bulbs (at least I’ve got another place to put the darned things!). Hope you all have an enjoyable weekend, gardening or doing other things.

36 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 02 Oct 2021: Musical Chairs

  1. I sympathise with the musical chairs situation. I’ve got a bit of sorting out to do myself (if I manage to get round to it)!

    Viburnum opulus – a lovely shrub. Unfortunately, around here they seem to get infested with viburnum beetle and look like net curtains by the end of the year. I’ll have to make do with admiring yours!

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  2. What lovely sunrises. I know exactly what you mean with finding spots for plants. I had to remove a few annuals to get some new plants in while the ground is still warm, so it looks a bit bare in places too. Viburnums are such lovely plants – gorgeous autumn colour and berries which far outdo a Forsythia (although I do love seeing Forsythia in spring), so a good choice. As for bulb planting… good luck! I have a new tool to save my back so it should be easier this year!

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    1. It’s funny, I don’t really like forsythia in spring, I don’t know why, and I think it’s a minority opinion but I believe that in a small garden every shrub should earn its place! I hope the viburnum thrives.
      I bought a bulb planter last year and it does help!

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  3. Superb colours of sky in your last photos and I’m also a little jealous of your grape because here it’s zero. Last year was a very good year you are right but this year I have nothing at all…
    I didn’t know that we also said “the game of Musical Chairs,” because it’s an expression and I ‘m happy to see that it also exists in English!😂

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  4. I love the autumn coloured leaves of the Viburnum opulus and those sky shots are great. The musical chairs made me smile. I did some small tree swapping last month but there are a number of perennials that need moving around – something I’ll need to do before any bulb planting to avoid accidentally digging the bulbs up shortly after.

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  5. What fab sunrise to set the day lv your cyclamen I bought 4 white as I lv white in garden and planted them in hanging basket and a tub and also planted some bulbs just before the stormy skies by the coast…autumnal rain and wind is here now happy gardening

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  6. Wonderful to see the queen bees availing themselves of the leaf mold. Do you chop up the leaves before placing them on the pile? I am optimistic about the viburnum. As you said, it seems to have much more to offer for a longer period of time – both aesthetically speaking and to wildlife – than the forsythia being removed.

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    1. I don’t bother chopping most of the leaves – apart from those removed by mowing. The high humidity might have helped the leaf mould creation process this year – there’s always an upside!

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  7. Lovely sunrises and the Viburnum is very pretty. I had a chuckle at the musical chair shenanigans! I have yet to make a start on moving my plants and have actually begun to wonder whether I should wait until the spring and see what actually survives. Like the new theme on the blog btw

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    1. Ah thanks I thought I’d try a new theme and now I need to figure out how to create an archive list of old posts – it would be useful to be able to refer back now that I’ve been blogging for over a year! I am still contemplating moving more plants – I find that once I start, there’s no stopping…groan 😉

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  8. I laughed out loud about the musical chairs, such a familiar story! Interesting about the bumble bees. We don’t have them here which I’m a bit sad about. They are found in Tasmania, but nowhere else in Australia, I believe. I remember them from my childhood in NZ.

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      1. There have been stringent efforts to keep bumblebees out of mainland Australia. It’s thought that they compete with native species. Apparently some were smuggled into Tasmania from NZ in the 90s, but they are not seen on the mainland. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind the climate at all, if they could find their way here.

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      2. How interesting. I’ve been reading a bit about bumblebees and what you say ties in with problems of non-native bee species elsewhere. Here in Belgium they have a thriving ‘bee-for-export’ industry, but there were bad consequences in Japan when they imported non-native species.

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  9. I’m not getting round to the Six on S. these days – it has lost its appeal – and am late getting to read your post.

    I have been moving the plants also: kniphofias and aconitum yesterday and it has rained since to settle them in!

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      1. I find it both restrictive and demanding – the feeling of having to have something ready for Saturday and in a format I wouldn’t otherwise use. I have always written for the pleasure of doing so rather than to meet a deadline and will continue along those lines.

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      2. Absolutely, writing for pleasure is why we are blogging. One good thing about SOS is the sense of community it creates – but for me it’s also quite tricky to get round to reading them all!

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      3. Yes, I felt it only right to read all contributors and that became an imposition. Not everything we write is worth reading. The purpose was writing for the pleasure of doing it.

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