Our Frog Pond

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Pond with ragged robin
Rose Cottage pond with the wildflower, ragged robin, in the foreground.

Our frog pond at Rose Cottage started with the clearing and excavation of a scrubby area in our lower woods.

Unfortunately, we were out of town when the excavator finally arrived, so were unable to provide adequate direction. Hence, the pond is somewhat smaller than we had anticipated. The contractor seeded the entire area with grasses and vetch, creating the ongoing task of weeding, to discourage the grass seedlings and encourage other native and ornamental plants.

Once the pond was dug, a drain pipe was installed at the top of the downhill side of the hole. The pond was filled with the next good rain, by runoff from our hill. It stays full during spring and early summer, but often nearly dries out in August, after the tadpoles have developed into frogs. The drier period is brief most years, as the pond fills again with September rain.

We have observed lots of green frogs at the pond’s edge, and have seen many toads in the vicinity. On spring and summer nights we hear the calls of the Eastern toad, the green frog, and spring peepers. Our grandchildren bring tiny newts and salamanders and baby toads to the pond, hoping they will take up residence.
Adult green frog
Adult green frog

One year when the tadpoles were nearly mature, the pond suffered a plague of leeches, which can be great bait for fishermen, but bad news for tadpoles. It takes only a few minutes for a large leech to dispatch a tiny froglet or tadpole. Despite the leech invasion, there were lots of second-year frogs in the vicinity, the following year.
Green frog tadpoles in our pond
Green frog tadpoles in our pond

We are beginning to see some large garter snakes which may prey on the young amphibians in the garden. Once, a cat, that often visited the pond, ran off with a large green frog, leaving with the long legs hanging out of his mouth. He was stopped by our daughter who managed to rescue the frog and return it, unharmed, to the pond.

The green frogs spend the warm summer days croaking and catching insects in and around the pond, while the toads and peepers disperse throughout the garden and woodland. Since we do not use poisons or sprays in the garden, the insect population flourishes, providing abundant food for the amphibians.
Pond and garden
Frog pond and bog garden

We don’t keep fish in our pond to control the mosquito larvae, because fish eat frog spawn, and also could not survive during the dry times. We have tried using a “Mosquito Magnet” which runs on propane and attracts and traps mosquitoes by producing carbon dioxide and mimicking the presence of humans. That was only partially successful. Now I am using “mosquito dunks”, floating disks containing bacillus thuringensis, which infects and kills the mosquito larvae, but not the desirable pond life.
Looking down at the pond from the old logging road
Looking down at the pond from the old logging road, now a trail through the garden.

The pond is edged with yellow flag iris, petasites japonica gigantea, cardinal flower, large hostas (“Niagra Falls” and “Vim and Vigor”), forget-me-nots, buttercups, ragged robin, filipendula, and other wildflowers/weeds. These provide hiding places and sun protection for the frogs.

Our pond is a focal point for the garden at Rose Cottage. Although it is small, it supports an expanded frog population in a natural way.