With weather in the upper 70’s on Sunday, it was time to clean the pond. The bullfrogs chose the day for me. Their mass emergence from the pond on Sunday allowed me to disturb the bottom without injuring a hibernating frog. The bullfrogs appeared within minutes of one another as if there was an underwater alarm clock. As they dragged their inky bodies from the pond, they were practically unrecognizable as bullfrogs. Lethargic and muck-colored, they settled down on the sun-warmed rocks.
This was truly my window of opportunity. Soon these boys will begin their irresistible chorus of bullfrog bellows followed by a pond overloaded with nighttime frog orgies. Shortly thereafter I will be watching over my rather large tadpole nursery. On Sunday, my frog friends plopped themselves silently in the sun, eyes watching me as I dipped my crab net again and again. I brought up sycamore leaves covered with muck and stirred up ginkgo leaves with their tiny air pockets that cause them to pop to the surface to be skimmed. All this good stuff from the bottom of the pond is worked in as a rich compost around lucky plants.
You could call me a lazy water gardener since I don’t remove the fish, I don’t drain the pond and I don’t remove all the muck in the bottom of the pond. I leave the gravel that has fallen from potted plants to provide a habitat for good bacteria that breaks down ammonia wastes. I clean the bio-filter that provides a bubbly fountain that aerates the water.
Since the pond is not in full sun, string-algae is not a real problem. Algae might appear before the ginkgo leafs out, but not to worry. It’s the tadpoles’ fav food and it soon disappears. My methods are not for everyone but they have worked for me for many years. The lilies, the iris, the grasses, the insects and the animals thrive.
This is our simplified little pond where the healthy fish and frogs eat the insects and plants, and an occasional great blue heron, snake or raccoon will eat the frogs and fish. It is our water garden full of life meant to be studied, appreciated and enjoyed. Add two chairs and two glasses of wine and it’s a perfect setting at the end of the day.
Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester