So as not to be outshone by my country friend, I’d like to share my experiences with frogs and ponds up here in town.
It all started with a sandpit shell that my children had outgrown. We scraped a bit of a hollow under the trees in a corner near the compost heap and put the half shell into it.
The idea initially was just to have a few goldfish, so we filled it with town water and let the chlorine evaporate and put in a few small pots of water weeds. Then, before we had organised ourselves to get the fish, we began to hear the distinctive tock-tock call of Striped Marsh Frogs. The thrill of having frogs changed our pond plans, and instead of goldfish, which will eat frog eggs and small tadpoles, we added four tiny White Clouds to keep the mossie larvae at bay.
We gradually planted a border of water iris and creeping iris around and in the pond, and ever since have taken great delight in our town-garden frog spot.
The sandpit-pond holds about 60 litres of water, and only needs the leaf-litter from overhead trees to be scooped out about once a year. (I use an old badminton racquet to do the job.) Otherwise, we seem to have achieved a balance of small fish, frogs, and plants that keeps the pond water relatively clear and teaming with tadpoles. As the young frogs develop legs and move to land, they have plenty of thick damp shrubbery in which to hide from butcherbirds and kookaburras, and from wandering urban cats.
Our own cats are kept indoors most of the time, and the dogs - a pair of beautiful Australian Shepherds - are not the least bit interested in hunting for frogs.
But I did still want some goldfish. When I saw a lovely glazed pot in a garden shop, the “must buy that” part of my brain kicked in. I set the pot-pond up in a spot where it receives filtered sunlight for several hours of the day and where I can watch the fish from the kitchen window. The balance of healthy plants to the ratio of water volume and number of goldfish means that the water stays clear and clean with very little attention.
So, I am happy; frogs are happy; goldfish are happy too. But somehow, that one glazed pot seems to have bred. I now have a courtyard full of water-garden pots, each with its own successful micro-habitat.
Next: a bowl of soup by the pond.
Written and compiled by two frogs.