Chickens in the garden

gardeningmaryJuly 14, 2009

Chickens are a great addition to a garden. The girls have their own border to range in. It used to be Clousseau's hang out and is planted with tough thugs and extras from other parts of the garden. A few hosta leaves have been shredded but seeing the chicks happily foraging around and nestling in the shade make it worth the sacrifice.

Here are Bertha and Chicken Little

All five are in this photo, the poultry version of "Where's Waldo". Can you spot them?

A glimpse of Heliopsis Lorraine Sunshine and grasses.

Fresh mulch provides lots of good scratching for worms and bugs.

The Aracuanas are too small to establish their place in the pecking order but seem happy in their private suite. The older chickens love roosting on top of their run.

Chickens are always fun to watch and sometimes just plain goofy.

Chicken Land and the quail are tucked away by the path center back of this photo, hidden from street view. I love having surprises in the garden and what could be more fun than this?

Here is my long side border, a blaze of color right now.

The island bed in the front I tried to limit to purples, white and lemon yellow.

This year I grew Black Magic geraniums from seed for the window boxes and paired them with lime green.

At the back we have a new gazebo on the patio which provides the perfect place for mosquito free eating.

Tiger Eye Sumac is stunning this year

Fox Tail Lilies ahve finally come into their own

Slavia Sclaria Turkistanca paired with cosmos.

Thanks for looking!


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You put me to shame, Miss Mary! I love the chickens in the border and yes, I did find all 5. Grand, just grand!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 8:49PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Lots and lots of fun here Mary! I agree about the hostas, sumach and salvia thriving this year! I see your verbena bonariensis in bloom already too. The pink froth is tamarisk?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 8:51PM
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I think this is the first time I've gotten so many views of your gardens and I love them!

The chickens look like such fun! How great that they can have their own space to be chickens :) I'll bet Clousseau doesn't mind giving up his old hang out....

That was fun...thanks for sharing!


    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 9:10PM
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Mary, your gardens are so lovely. They certainly have an English feel and the pool looks so inviting. It sounds like you are really enjoying the chickens.

Thanks for posting so many pictures, I enjoyed them much.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 11:18PM
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OMG, the eremus! Mary, it's all fabulous, and you're right, the chickens add so much beauty and whimsy at the same time. What a stunning garden you've created!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 11:43PM
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Ahhh Mary, I love every single photo ! The feather kids are wonderful, the flower borders and combos therein, so glad you shared these..It's a lucky chicken that gets it's own personal garden..I'll buy you a drink at the Bloody Mary bar !

Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 12:02AM
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jak1(4 Ontario Can)

Mary, your home looks like something out of a magazine! And you are right, the chickies just add that special touch that makes it a homey personal place. I think it all looks great!



    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 8:00AM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Oh wow! your yard and flowerbeds are gorgeous! And the chickens are cute, but I hope you do not end up regretting their 'work' in your flowerbeds. Ours really did a number on mine, but then, ours were all large hens and a couple of roosters.
The bigger chickens do not stay out all night,do they? They would not last as long as a June frost here if they were outside at night.
I guess my favorite pic is the long side border.

Lucky you, with the Foxtail Lilies. I tried did not succeed.

One of my seed sown cosmos is budding. It is just a common one, not a beautiful one like yours.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 8:04AM
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Full_Bloom(z5 IL)

What fun Mary! They must bring you smiles every day...I can see they are real characters! :-) Is the white one Bertha or Chicken Little? She cracked me up standing on that rock above all the others. She looks to me like she's getting ready to make her big speech with her chest held high and I can almost hear her clearing her throat in preparation...LOL!

What a lovely setting for them all too. I love the way you've incorporated the chickens into your gardens...I couldn't think of a better surprise!

What a treat to see more of your beautiful gardens too! The long side garden *is* a blaze of color and so beautiful and the Eremerus look fabulous! How nice that they are doing so well for you....makes me want to try again with them! :-) The purple, white and yellow scheme really appeals to me's so elegant looking. The windowboxes look *perfect* and love the color combo of the Cosmos and salvia too. Do you know which cosmos that is? I love the "eye" effect.

Anyway, thanks for sharing this's a real treat to see more of your beautiful gardens.

Can I ask you what is probably a dumb question? Do chickens need roosters in order to make eggs? And if they don't need roosters (which I'm assuming they don't)...then do roosters have any purpose other than just looking so darn handsome? I guess I don't understand the whole "egg" thing. For instance, would all eggs turn into chickens if left to develop? Or, are only eggs where the rooster and the chicken got together the "fertile eggs"? Is that the purpose of a rooster, to help create more babies? Do chickens lay roosters? How does a farmer know when he's selecting eggs; which ones are not going to be babies and which ones are? Or maybe it doesn't matter? And, which came first? The chicken or the egg...LOL! :-) So many questions...I guess I need to read more about the whole process.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 8:08AM
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Well, I'm glad my pics have earned me a Bloody Mary. Thanks Kathy!!

GB - Tamarisk would be really nice but those are actually the pinkish flowers of Karl Foerster grass.

Marian - the chickens all stay out at night now, but in their covered henhouses. Our lowest temp has been 48F and their feathers and roosting together keep them plenty warm. Their garden could be a real mess by the time Autumn comes, but it was a spot I rarely visited up close. In fact, before the chickens I just let the invasives battle it out and from a distance the effect was pleasing. I now love digging and weeding in there as the chicks follow my every move, dashing off with a worm if I uncover one. It is so much fun:0)

Ei - Big Bertha is the white one - she is supposed to grow 1/3 larger than the others but is of modest size right now.

In no way are those dumb questions - I asked the very same ones myself. In fact, until this morning I didn't fully understand the anatomy of a rooster and couldn't answer the children's questions as to whether he has a male appendage or not. As the article below explains, roosters are only needed to fertilize eggs to breed. It is interesting that they only mate when daylight and temperature are right, which occurs in Spring. A hen will lay eggs without any help from the rooster, in the same way we have our cycle regardeless of male presence.

Knowing our town does not allow roosters I brought our chicks from a local farmer who sexes the day old peeps so that buyers are assured a female. They are a little more expensive but it was a much better alterative than raising a chick only to find we had to give it away when it started crowing. Apparently roosters will crow at any time of the day or night if disturbed. Roosters can be magnificent and if we lived on a farm I'd have one in a second, but would house it away from our bedrooms.


Here is a link that might be useful: Reproduction of chooks

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 9:50AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Mary - what fun to have the chickens in the garden. And so nice to see more of your garden! Those Foxtail lilies are fabulous. (Too bad I yanked mine by mistake when it finally appeared after 5 or so years! I must try them again....)

Ei - as far as I recall, the purpose of the rooster is to fertilize eggs. Fertilized eggs are not considered desirable for eating so a rooster is not required and not desirable if you only want eggs.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 9:58AM
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It's all so nice Mary. You have a so much variety in you plantings. Love seeing the chickens too. I'm wondering about the electric poultry fenceing. Did the chickens test it out? Do they have their wings clipped to keep them from flying?

Also, what are the darkish pink flowers in the foxtail lillies photo? I love your cosmo is it considered a drawf?
Last year I planted dwarf orange and dwarf white ones and I love them with the daylillies. Only the orange ones volunteered for this year. I definitely want to have more variety of them next year.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 9:31PM
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chloehoover(z6b VA)

Really wonderful, Mary - and the most photos I think I've ever seen of your wonderful, wonderful garden. I believe you've made us all think of Great Dixter - what wonderful combos... Im so envious of the Eremus too - simply gorgeous.

Thanks so much for taking the time to shoot and post the pics!


    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 10:12PM
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Stunning...the gardens and the chickens! :) Like saucy, I've never seen so much of your gardens before, and I'm so glad you've posted. Such a feast for the eyes. Have you noticed the bug/slug population going down since the hens have been in the gardens? They are cute and must be so much fun to watch. A lot more fun than squirrels I'm guessing.

Your pool looks very refreshing. Ahhhh.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 10:14PM
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Full_Bloom(z5 IL)

Thanks for the wonderful link was truly fascinating reading...I hope I never stop being in awe of nature. :-) There is so much to learn...things we take for granted without really giving it a second thought.

I must say though, I'm a little disappointed in Mr. Rooster. Well he's still a handsome fellow, but I think he must make a lousy beau...makes me glad I'm not a chicken. Glad to read eggs are soft when they come out and harden later...LOL...another thought that crossed my mind from time to time. I always felt a little sorry for chickens thinking about what an ordeal it must be to lay those large hard eggs all the time! :-)


    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 10:17PM
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Norma - It's interesting about the electric netting. Chickens do not have the biggest brains and I'm not sure how quickly they associate the mild shock with being in contact with the fence, but it does work. Even more importantly, it has so far deterred any 4 legged predator (canine or wild) from entering the run. Almost everyone I know has lost chickens at some point to foxes, racoons or dogs. I'm keeping my fingers crossed it will continue to keep the chooks and the quail safe. Hawks are another potential problem, but as the chicks spend most of their time in the shade of the trees, or hidden amongst the grasses and perennials so far they haven't attracted any attention.

I have not clipped the chicken's wings as they have shown no desire to fly. However, the three Aracunas in the small run are much more flighty and I will clip theirs before letting them range in the large enclosure. It's interesting how different breeds have such different behaviour.

The dark pink flowers are my somniferum poppies, grown from seed from flowers in my sisters garden in Wales.

Anita - I must admit the chicken garden is free of snails and slugs, but they haven't done such a good job with the aphids on the Heliposis!

Ei - I agree. There is always so much to learn about the natural world. For me it is a constant source or fascination.

Some exciting news from the chickens is that Red Betty had finally returned to laying eggs!! Yay Betty. Yesterday I discovered a perfect, pale brown egg in the corner of the hen house, and she produced another beauty just now - it is still warm. We have waited so long, they are almost too precious to eat:0) But the deep orange of the yolk and fresh firmness of the white set them apart from any battery produced egg and I think I'll fry them for lunch.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 11:15AM
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jak1(4 Ontario Can)

"Do chickens lay roosters?" An interesting choice of words....

Sorry, I couldn't help myself, I just laughed right out loud....I admit I didn't know the answer to the real questions asked....



    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 3:57PM
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Full_Bloom(z5 IL)

LOL...That's okay Julie! I didn't realize my poor choice of words until after I clicked submit and have to admit it made me laugh too (once I realized I couldn't do anything else about it)! :-)


    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 4:43PM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

LOL, Ei, the females are hens. They lay the eggs. The males are roosters. Like any creature in the animal kingdom, they fertilize the eggs. :-)
As for eating fertilized eggs that is all my family and most farm families had to eat, when I was growing up, and I suspect that is what they still eat. The only difference is a very small white spot in them that would eventually develop into a chick. I understand some people even eat the egg after the embryo has developed? That practice certainly does not appeal to me.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 4:47PM
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