The frog pond is about 16 months old now and has been through two summers – and my conclusion is that it’s a success!
This spring it was filled with frog eggs and then tadpoles for what seemed like a long time! I had to be very careful in scooping up the Azolla that grows on the pond surface, because I often got a tadpole or two as well!
A few nice plants “volunteered” around the edge; some nice low growing clump grasses, a pretty – but sprawly – pennyroyal that I almost pulled up, until I noticed the lavender flowers and the minty smell, and a nice reed planted itself in the overflow area. The yellow Monkeyflower spread its seed to the other side of the pond, which I appreciated, and the wild strawberries under the vine maple actually put out a good crop of delicious berries in late spring and then spread itself out across the oregano and clover “lawn” that surround the Mimosa tree. I mow there now and then through the summer to keep certain “weeds” from blooming, and it seems to have adapted to that without any trouble.
The Coastal strawberry filled in and is spreading merrily across the path and the Self-heal around the northeast edges has done just what I hoped and looks really nice!
The raccoons seem to have found another garden to raid this year, and instead, I had a possum who isn’t into traipsing around in the water pulling up potted waterlilies and skunk cabbage – bless it’s furry little heart! It churned up all the beds in the orchard each night, like a tiny rototiller – but didn’t bother plants or eat strawberries! And, of course, because it left the pond alone, the potted plants in it did much better this year!
The dragonflies were again a pleasure to watch and again there were several kinds. It seems like they didn’t stay around as long as they did last summer. Not sure why…
And then – in August – after never really greening up and thriving as it had in the past – the Azolla died! Growing Azolla for my hens and as a nitrogen source for my compost, was really the main motivation for the pond, so this was a real blow! The odd and interesting thing is that the Azolla which has covered the little 3 foot pond in my rock garden and a tiny pond near the chicken pen for probably 7 years now – all died at the same time! These other little ponds have very different debris in them than the frog pond, so I was able to eliminate tree debris as the cause. It’s very mysterious and I’m very sorry.
On the other hand, there was a tiny bit of duck weed growing in with the Azolla in all three ponds and it took off and covered the tiny ponds fairly quickly. The frog pond looks really nice with a small covering of duck weed at one end. Much prettier than it did with the Azolla which always covered much of it! So I have gotten something pleasant out of it all. I haven’t rushed to replace it because I don’t have a clue what killed it all. I thought I would wait until next spring to try again. If you have any notion what might be the cause I would love to hear from you…
All in all I’m really pleased with the results of this “grand pond experiment”! So far I don’t see anything I would change or do differently – except perhaps to start out with my potted water plants in woven bags with rocks on the bottom and on the top of the soil to keep raccoons from so easily dragging them around and digging them up!
If you want to try this pond design yourself and have questions that my original article didn’t answer – I would be happy to try to help…