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…
You truly inspire me. I always wanted to have a small little pond . The only thing that stopped me was that I do not have a natural water source and I would have to feed it . So I thought why create something that is not self sustainable… But seeing how much peace surrounds yours I feel I should try.
Thank you for posting this.
Thank you… and I have to say that your writing inspires me as well…encourages me to speak more from my heart. I love what you are doing with your place. It seems you might have a wonderful spot there for a frog pond. Mine has truly become the place everyone gravitates and sits. There really is something quite magical and restful about water. Mine only needs “topping off” about once a month in the dry season (we get NO rain here for 4+ months), and if it is partly covered by azolla or duckweed that not only helps the frogs and tadpoles but keeps the water from evaporating. I know it is not self-sustaining as I am hoping the rest of the place to be one day, but watching all the creatures that are sustained by it makes me think it is worth the compromise.
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I think I found the perfect spot under the canopy of three Birches I planted few years ago and some Elderberry.
I am dreaming it .
Did you use a liner?
Thank you for the kind words and for being here.
Looks beautiful – sorry to hear about the mishaps!
Hi Helen — thanks for the commiseration! I am so used to the occasional “mishap” with gardening or anything involving nature that I pretty much take things like that in stride… I didn’t get a picture of how it is right this month… and will try to do that if it ever stops raining! (That’s NOT a complaint!) It’s actually looks really nice with the duckweed down at one end and the rest clear….
Well, I hope you don’t have rain like we did last winter but if you need it, that’s good!
It looks like we might get a wet one this year… Last year was twice the normal and last week we got nearly 16 inches in about 4 days! and it just keeps raining! Not so hard though. We nearly had our well go dry this summer so I will be happy to have the groundwater re-charged… We have two pot growers nearby that are using a huge amount of water – that our water table is not used to…
cobgoddess – I’m glad that you found a good spot.. Shade is good I have found with ponds – much less likelihood of algae growing. I did line it with a heavy duty pond liner and splurged on a soft woven liner for the liner! We have moles and rats that tunnel and chew and didn’t want to deal with damage from them. Then we spread soil from the bottom of the hole over it – so that it wouldn’t be full of nutrients for algae to grow in… and a layer of river sand to create the little “beach”. Birds take baths along there in groups sometimes! It’s wonderful… You can see in my first article on it how we covered the liner with plants and moss… It was a long slow process – but worth every minute!