One of my favorite gardens in the city was a Friendship Garden.  Every time a certain flower bloomed, I recalled the person who gave it to me, and it made me smile. But on the farm, there were drawbacks to this…


“Plant flowers in others’ gardens and your life becomes a bouquet!” — Unknown


Which is Worse?


I don’t know which is worse where a flower garden is concerned – chickens or dogs.


The first year we were here, I painstakingly dug up tangles of stickers in the flower bed beside the house.  I super-splurged, and spent probably $100.00 on ready-to-plant flowers, since I hadn’t had the time or place to start my own seeds.  I spent hours straining my back and knees to pull the weeds, dig the dirt, amend the soil and plant those babies in the ground.


Not half an hour after I finished, the chickens had plucked every last plant out of the ground.  They thought they had died and gone to flowerbed Heaven!  I spent another hour or better alternating between replanting and shoeing chickens.


The Country Boy came home to find me sitting in a lawn chair, drinking lemonade, reading a book and occasionally swatting at a brave chicken with a broom.  And I stayed there until he could build a fence around the garden that was chicken-proof.



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Fast Forward – Present Day


Since most of the flowers I originally planted didn’t seem to like the space very well, I decided to turn the bed into an herb garden.  The chickens have long since been treated to a new coop, complete with high fencing, so I knew they would no longer be a problem.  I slaved over amending the soil and planting herbs I grew myself.


I did add some shorter, decorative fencing.  When I was finished, I stood back and dreamed of all the wonderful things I would do with those herbs.  The next morning, there were holes where herbs used to be.  It seems the dogs liked that space as well, if not better, than the plants.  Rats.


Back to Square One with a Friendship Garden


Regardless of where you plant, you will always have problems with flowerbeds.  If it isn’t chickens or dogs, it could be aphids and weeds.  No matter what, it takes a lot of time to keep a flowerbed in good order.  However, there is another type of ‘flower bed’ that can be cultivated, and for the most part, you don’t have to worry about the critters stepping in to undo all your hard work.  It is the Friendship Garden.


To cultivate this type of garden takes a little time.  Think in terms of the types of flowers you already love.  To grow Zinnias in this type of garden, you need a fertilizer of joy and laughter.  Daisies require happiness.  Roses grow better in soil amended with love.  Geranium thrive with steadfastness.  Rosemary is rooted in rememberance. Mexican Heather feeds on contentment.  And Sunflowers nourish the soul.


When you plant this type of garden, you will find that your friendships produce a garden that is beautiful and a joy to visit.  The best part is that you can bring home cuttings of all those flowers and fill your own home with the beauty of flowers that will last a lifetime.


Personally, I think I’ll leave the side bed to the dogs and chickens.  I think I would much rather have a Friendship Garden!


*This photo was taken in the yard of Thelma Womack – one of my very favorite neighbors and friend!  (Thank you, Thelma!)






Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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