Every garden should have water in one form or another. I hadn’t intended to have a pond when I moved here over thirty years ago. I’d moved house rather a lot until then and my previous two homes didn’t have one, or any form of water feature; because I wasn’t likely to stay long in either, it didn’t seem worth the bother. This garden really didn’t seem big enough to incorporate one unless it were to look out of proportion with the rest of the area.
Then one day I read a feature about the beauty of the sky – especially clouds reflected in water – and immediately went outside, dug a small hole, and sank a tiny rock pool into the ground, near a well-used path between the back door and the garage, where I could appreciate the effect many times a day as a matter of course.
Of course, it didn’t stay as a puddle. Even a small pond offers great potential for planting and wildlife, so the rock pool was converted into the pond that exists today. It’s probably the smallest one that would qualify for the term ‘pond’. It is, however, accurately constructed – lined with butyl, with a deeper bit in the middle for a miniature lily, a step for marginals, and a small boggy area where it runs over at one end, suitable for moisture-lovers. It’s not large enough for fish, although I have had a couple of goldfish in it in the past, but they didn’t really like it. However, birds drink and bathe in it, and in preference, too, to all the purpose-designed receptacles scattered around the garden for these specific purposes.
The only disappointment was that whereas frogs and toads seemed to live and breed in my friends’ gardens in the most unlikely places, such as, in one instance, an abandoned plastic bucket, and even, in another case, a leaky sieve where the holes had got bunged up with dirt, they never seemed to visit mine, although there were plenty hopping around other parts of the garden.
Earlier this week I was walking to the garage and heard the faint sound of a badly serviced chainsaw being started – or rather, not being started – away in the distance. That chap will do himself a mischief, I thought, if he can’t make it fire soon.
Then I realised that the noise was coming from much nearer, in the vicinity of the pond -the marginal plants at to be exact. Three or four years ago, the first frog broke the duck – so to speak – took the plunge, and laid some spawn. I didn’t see any mating, but we got tadpoles, and from then on, the number visiting the pond has steadily increased so the water around this time of year usually boils with over-excited gentlemen and their lady friends.
It turned out, therefore, it was one of our resident amphibious gentlemen who was making like a sick chain saw this week, and the following day there were obvious signs of mating. Then the weather turned bitterly cold and they disappeared. Sadly, we have not seen them since, but maybe they’re just being cautious, and will return when they – and we, for that matter, have decided that spring really is upon us. As an old friend of mine used to say, “Any fool can be uncomfortable!”
I apologise to any reading this who can’t stand the sight of frogs and toads, but I love them, and to my mind they are one of the best indicators that a garden has reached a good wildlife balance. Come back, frogs, it will warm up, I promise.