One of the main things that I wanted for my garden was a pond.
We’d had one in my garden growing up, and I knew how much wildlife they attracted. The garden was also quite damp – we even had a frog splitting it’s time between the shady borders and the compost bin. What would be better than giving the little fella his very own residence?
However, my husband was less keen. He’d also had ponds growing up – but they were quite different from what I had in mind. My father in law is a keen fishkeeper, and his pond is filtered, clear and orderly. What I wanted was a wildlife pond, no filters, left to run mostly wild and definitely no fish! A compromise was struck, a small pond could be installed and we picked a corner of the wild border.
Spring rolled around, and the pond was installed. It took a matter of weeks for ‘the’ frog to move in, swiftly followed by many, many of it’s friends! Yes, it turns out the one resident frog was actually several resident frogs! We ended up with frogs big and small, no frogspawn as yet so I still don’t know where the little ones appear from.
With no filtration system, algae can become a problem and the water can turn cloudy and de-oxygenated, which is no good for wildlife. We solved this problem by including plenty of oxygenating plants and also buying some pond snails which feed on any algae that forms. This strategy is pretty much self-sustaining, as the snails breed quickly and so any algae soon disappears. We also put a couple of bags of Daphnia in, these are water fleas which filter feed and again help to keep the water clear. Daphnia are a live fish food, and so we got ours from the local aquarium shop.
By this year the frog population seemed to be growing exponentially, with a record 17 frogs of varying sizes being seen in the 60 x 80cm pond one day in Spring – so it’s just as well we decided to put another pond in! By this time my husband was fully on board, and even talked me into a 1000 litre pond instead of the 500 litre one I’d earmarked. The aim with this is to attract other wildlife such as newts and dragonflies which need slightly more space than Pond One offers.
We put the second pond in early this year, and it was just over a week before the first frogs were seen making themselves at home. We put in some water hyacinth, which the smaller frogs seem to like floating on.
While other baby frogs still prefer the more rainforest-like environment of the original pond (the marsh marigold we planted in there has grown to triffid-esque proportions) –
My husband is especially keen to attract newts, and so built a moss-covered newt habitat to one side of the pond using some thick bamboo –
And we are starting to see the frogs starting to explore further round the garden, especially at night and when it rains –
The only downside, is that this year both ponds seem to be suffering from a duckweed infestation. We scoop some out regularly to stop the pond surface being fully covered and the plants below starved of light. The clumps of duckweed we remove are left by the side of the pond for a while for any beasties caught up in it to make their way back to the water before it goes in with the garden waste.
There is one benefit of the duckweed though – bees and wasps use it as a handy platform to take a drink. I watched this Potter Wasp return a few times one hot day over the Summer –
So I’ve decided that the duckweed isn’t all bad. I’m looking forward to seeing how the ponds develop over the coming years.