Ponds and frogs

21 March 2013

Why did I have to start a blog in one of the latest Springs we’ve had in ages? I want to blog about things I’m seeing and doing in the garden, but there isn’t very much going on as yet. Today’s wildlife total was one queen bumble bee (bombus terrestis, I think) and a few smaller bees, all feeding on hellebore foetida. Mind you, I wasn’t out there very much – had food shopping to do and I hadn’t bought any seed potatoes yet, so dropped into Holme Nursery to get some. At least the nursery looked like they thought spring was on its way – lots of polyanthus and bulbs in full flower and herbaceous perennials arriving.

We have got a bit done outside – the reeds in the pond are one thing I sometimes take down in the autumn, to open up the view, but it didn’t get done last year, so  Chris got into his wellies, found the shears and went for a paddle (not in the deep end!) It’s astonishing how big the pond looks when you can see it’s full size – when it’s full of plants it tends to merge into the garden around it.

Mating frogs in pond

Mating frogs in pond

Sadly, it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting any frog spawn this year – we didn’t get any last year either. We had a horrible winter before that, when the adult frogs must have gone into the pond to breed and then it froze over and they died. There was advice at the time that you didn’t need to make holes in the ice (as I usually did) because the frogs could cope, but it didn’t work out like that – maybe because our deepest bit isn’t very deep, and well silted up, or maybe because in the depths of winter the frogs can slow down their metabolism, wheras breeding frogs are presumably fully awake. So I’ve gone back to making holes in the ice if it freezes for more than 24 hours, using a saucepan of hot water. In prolonged cold periods, we’ve used an empty food tin for this purpose, with a long stick through two holes near the top, so we can leave it on the pond and it doesn’t sink down out of reach when it gets through the ice.

Enough gloom – let’s finish with a cheerful photo of a marsh marigold flower in the pond, from April 2008.

Marsh Marigold

Marsh Marigold


6 Comments to “Ponds and frogs”

  1. nice photos! Shame about the frogs, I found having a light ball that could be blown around by the wind kept the ice from forming on my pond. I’ve only got a small tub in the ground this year as it’s a new garden and sadly not had time to dig a pond. Next year I hope to have one and I know from neighbours frogs, toads and newts live in the area, I’ve seen a few frogs myself. Very excited already!

    Still snow here in Edinburgh, there were a few bees earlier, loads of moths and I’ve seen one wasp, all but the moths have gone back into hiding.

  2. Hi. I did try the ball trick, but it froze into the ice, and didn’t want to come out! Perhaps there wasn’t enough wind – we’re quite sheltered. I probably should have said in the blog, that the one thing not to do is to hit the ice to break it, as the shock waves could harm the wildlife.

    It’s rain here today, and cold with it. You are welcome to the snow! Happy wildlife spotting.


  3. I meant to reply to this earlier, is the pond big enough for reeds at all? Just I found when the swayed in the wind it moved enough to leave small holes in the ice, except a couple of really bad winters, still may not help if it’s too sheltered though.

    Beautiful and sunny here, parents are over from Oz and spent the day cutting back all the roses in the front.

    thanks for a great blog – I’m pretty new to gardening and want to make the most for the wildlife at the same time.

    • Good point – swaying reeds might help keep holes in the ice, I’ll be sure to leave them uncut and observe what happens.
      I’m glad it’s sunny where you are (New Zealand?) – I wish it was the same here, but it’s still very cold with a north-east wind!
      Good luck with your garden.

      • Hey Lyn, sorry I should have mentioned; I use the name KiwiGav to distinguish myself in the UK, I live in Edinburgh now, was born in NZ, grew up in Oz and got wanderlust and found this a great place to live!

        When I moved over I joined the butterfly conservation and saw a post about your blog on one of the twitter accounts, it’s been really helpful for someone new to gardening in the UK.

        Sadly it got so sunny yesterday a frog had got itself into my greenhouse and sadly died from heat. When I saw it I rushed it to my very small water section, I’ve not got a pond in my new garden yet, to try and revive it, but sadly no luck.

        Hopefully dig a good pond later this year, I’ve put in a good mixed hedge, and hope to get a lot of wildlife friendly plants in too.


      • Sorry to hear about your frog, but do beware: they can play dead very well. I found one once, stretched out on some paving stones, and put it in a bucket, intending to dispose of it later, but when I came back to it, it was alive and well, though no doubt annoyed to find itself imprisoned in a pail!

        Good luck with your garden – do get in touch if you’ve got any questions.


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