IMG-20141208-00073 I am gardening again!

Well – I’ve always been gardening, but not in other people’s gardens for a while. That’s all changed in the last couple of months and I’ve taken on three large and beautiful country gardens.

The first I privately refer to as the chicken garden: slightly unfair as it’s a lovely 6 acres around a fine old rambly house. Or at least it will be lovely: I’m currently rescuing the cultivated bits around the house from a spaghetti-like tangle of bindweed and doing lots of new planting.

All accompanied by Henrietta here – my keenest fan – and her sisters, including three chicks and some guineafowl. They love it when I turn up as I’m Worm Provider Extraordinaire. So attentive are they I’m constantly worried about pinning one to the ground by the head with my fork.

They are very free range so we’ve developed a few ways of chicken proofing the garden. The main one is choosing the right plants.

Shrubs are easiest but boring planted en masse – so here’s my top 10 tough, more or less chicken proof perennials which will cope with a bit of experimental pecking.

  • Salvia ‘Mainacht’
  • Liriope muscari
  • Sanguisorba ‘Red Buttons’
  • Anemone x hybrida
  • Hellebores
  • Aster ‘Little Carlow’
  • Oriental poppies (these regenerate from the roots even when scratched to bits)
  • Ajuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow’ (plants which cover the ground densely offer no scratching opportunities)
  • Cirsium rivulare ‘Purpurea’
  • Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue”