GARDENING WITH DAPHNE LEDWARD: Frogs will signal spring

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Walking down the path to the garage the other day, there was a faint noise, rather like the starting –or rather, non-starting – of a recalcitrant chainsaw away in the distance. Poor chap, I thought, if it doesn’t fire soon, he’ll give himself a hernia.

Then I noticed that the noise was coming from much nearer, the marginal plants at the side of the pond, to be exact.

I use the term ‘pond’ loosely, as it’s more like a large puddle, although it is perfectly constructed, lined with butyl, with a deeper bit in the middle for a miniature water lily, a step at one end for marginals, and a boggy area for moisture-loving perennials.

I hadn’t intended to have a pond when I moved here. Then I thought of the beneficial effects of the sky reflected in water, and sank a tiny rock pool into the ground, near the path between the back door and the side door of the garage, where I could appreciate the effect without wandering down the garden.

But then, you know how it is – a pond, however small, offers greater potential for planting and wildlife, so the rock pool was converted into the pond that exists today. It’s not large enough for fish, but birds like to drink and bathe in it.

The biggest disappointment was that whereas frogs and toads seemed to live and breed in my friends’ gardens in the most unlikely places, such as, in one instance, an abandoned plastic bucket, they always seemed to shun mine.

It was only a couple of springs or so ago that the first frog apparently took the plunge, so to speak, and laid some spawn.

I didn’t see any mating, but we got tadpoles, and from then on, the garden has always had its fair share of adult frogs until the weather turns too cold and they find suitable crevices to overwinter safely.

So it turned out it was one of our resident amphibious gentlemen who was making like a sick chainsaw this week, and the following day there were obvious signs of mating, but since the bitterly cold weather arrived they have sensibly disappeared.

Hopefully they will return shortly and I shall feel that spring is really with us at last.