Whimsy at Chatsworth

During a visit to England, I enjoyed discussing my passion for poultry with the Duchess of Devonshire at Chatsworth in her whimsical topiary garden.

Now, Chatsworth is more than just a stately home. The Duke and Duchess have turned the grounds of the estate into a gardeners paradise with over 100 acres of gardens to enjoy.

I particularly enjoy the whimsical cottage garden where some of the Duchess's chickens reside.

Deborah Devonshire, Duchess of Devonshire: I've always had chickens and would be lost without them. I think our gardener is the only gardener who would allow chickens in his garden but he's sort of used to them so he doesn't mind. But the cochins are all right because they don't like getting their feathers wet.

Allen: I feel like they are one of the most humorous of the breeds because they look like they are running around with pajamas on across the lawn.

Deborah Devonshire, Duchess of Devonshire: They do, they do indeed. They look amazing and people often stop and think, "Goodness, it must have gotten out somewhere!" But they are completely free, they can go where they like.

Allen: I kind of look at chickens as moving garden ornaments.

Deborah Devonshire, Duchess of Devonshire: That's exactly right, I think in a garden this size you've got to have something alive as well as all the plants and trees and the chickens do give a bit of movement.

Allen: They do, yes. Your Grace, it seems you've had some fun with the garden - I'm thinking specifically of the cottage garden.

Deborah Devonshire, Duchess of Devonshire: Yes, it's very whimsical. I'm afraid it's very whimsical. But it's quite funny, you see people arriving there and staring at it and they just stare and suddenly they start laughing and getting out their camera.

Allen: They begin to get it and see all of the details. Like the fire in the fireplace.

Deborah Devonshire, Duchess of Devonshire: The Tiffany lamps by the bed. I don't know if you've seen it, but they are children's umbrellas with ivy growing up.

Allen: Oh, I love the canopy bed.

Deborah Devonshire, Duchess of Devonshire: Good! What else have we got? A dressing table and the carpet is made of thyme.

Allen: And the table is set with begonias.

Deborah Devonshire, Duchess of Devonshire: That's right, that's meant to be a tablecloth. And it has all come to, for a while it did look ridiculous, but everything does at first in a garden, doesn't it?

Allen: Well, I mean, you have to be patient and give it some time for it to develop and mature.

Deborah Devonshire, Duchess of Devonshire: That's right.

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