Gardening Journal, July 24th, 2013
Sitting quietly in the garden I noticed frogs jumping in and around the pond. There are many more this year after frogs spawned in both ponds. I even raised four from tiny tadpole stage to nearly frog with two hind legs and knobs for front legs before putting them in the front pond. After all, it is easy to keep tadpoles in an aquarium, but harder to contain them once they complete their transformation, need access to land to survive and start jumping around.
During the day I can find frogs in the usual spots; on or between the rocks, sitting next to my potted papyrus plant in the waterfall, on a lily pad, or just hanging in the water. In late afternoon though, they go exploring. Suddenly a frog hops into sight. It stops when it spots me and then continues on, looking for food. One frog patrols my container with carnivorous plants. Who knows, maybe it finds a meal just before an insect decides to explore the pitcher of one of the plants, which would otherwise become a watery grave for said insect and a meal for my plant.
A month or two ago I made up a container with a large bronze fennel plant as the focal point and others plants surrounding it. Soon, the swallowtail butterflies found the fennel and laid eggs. The eggs hatched and I had tiny little caterpillars happily munching away. These little eating machines grew rapidly and I wondered if there was enough fennel to keep them in food.
But then last night I caught sight of the frog. Its first attempt to jump in the container failed, but on the second try it succeeded. And it noticed a nice (and I imagine juicy) caterpillar on a low growing fennel branch. Gulp; one caterpillar gone, gulp, there goes another one. The frog stayed in the container for an hour or so, probably digesting this easily caught dinner. The remaining five caterpillars are probably safe high up in the plant. They should be getting close to their next stage; pupate in order to transform into a butterfly. I grew the fennel (just as I grow parsley) for the express purpose of luring butterflies to lay eggs and provide food for the caterpillars. I guess the frogs didn’t mind this easy to catch dinner either, although it was not my intended purpose.
My well tended garden has become a habitat for many. Different insects are enticed to come into garden, but good bugs (like lady beetles) keep bad bugs (such as aphids) in check. Frogs live in the ponds and partake in this buffet. Birds are equally attracted to the garden and those who live off insects will find a veritable smorgasbord. It reduces the need for me to control insects. Instead, in the heat of summer I relax. An easy chair, an iced tea, a book nearby, I watch in wonder as frogs hop along.