frog pond is forged for these frolicking critters
By Thea Steinmetz
Published Aug. 20, 2008
in many cases are an inventive lot. Just when you begin to think
you have covered just about every creative landscape, someone comes
up with a new wrinkle. When that happens, it is a good day. Reporting
on anything that has not been given an account previously is stimulating.
This Bay Village garden has been the subject earlier
when I had a chance to report on the dwarf fruit trees Elizabeth
Billings had planted. The latest addition is a frog pond. The rest
of us have waterfalls and ponds with fish, but this is a different
kind of water feature. When Billings became aware of the fact that
the American Zoological Association has deemed 2008 the year of
the frog, she hatched the idea to install a frog pond. Her enthusiasm
grew to the point that she even had a summer garden party to christen
her new frog habitat.
Some of us do have frogs in our ponds appearing mysteriously,
but for this one tadpoles were purchased. The owner wants the sound
of the frogs and did not want to wait for a chance migration.
As this garden is registered with the National Wildlife
Federation, frogs are a fine addition to the overall landscape.
A 300-gallon capacity pre-formed liner, with a modest waterfall,
was only installed in June. By the middle of August, the area around
the water had a look of permanence about it.
Half of the water is always covered in shade, while
the other half benefits from some sun. For this reason the plants
had to be carefully selected for their own preferences. For the
background, lavender hued rhododendrons and astilbe were selected.
The hellebores will display color very early in the year, while
the pink lobelia will show off in summer. Cotoneasters and low spreading
junipers round out the perimeter of the pond.
The plants in the water have done very well for this
first season. The water hyacinths have already multiplied, and the
water lettuce has done the same. Horsetail, one of the oldest plants
on record, is struggling a bit. A large orange flowered canna demanded
my attention. The outsized leaf is beautifully striped in various
colors. This variety of canna is especially hybridized to grow in
water and is a spectacular specimen.
A ceramic toad house rests on the edge of the water,
and so far no toad has been spotted moving into this rent-free housing.
The overall setting, pretty much at the center of the garden, is
An observation should be made of the back lawn on
this property. A comment about the rich green of the clover led
to a discussion of what lawns used to be. The roots of the clover
are nitrogen fixing and this benefits the soil. Most importantly,
rabbits would rather eat clover than some of the other things in
the garden. Perhaps having some clover in with our grass would keep
them from eating my parsley and lettuce and so on.
There are always gardens that keep calling me back,
and this one by the lake belongs to this group. It is not the sort
of property that Fine Gardens Magazine would cover, but it is one
woman’s vision of what her garden should be.
Wasn’t it just yesterday that we complained that spring
was missing us this year? Here we are, pushing the end of summer.
It is harvest time for all that wanted to have a go at growing their
own vegetables. Reward time is now. Only today a friend gifted me
with some of the produce from her garden. Kohlrabi has long been
one of my favorite vegetables to devour raw. There is a crunch to
it that is so pleasant that the absence of a distinct flavor is
not even missed. Along with an abundance of tomatoes, kohlrabi spells
summer. Too bad it is not more popular here. When purchased in a
grocery store, it is expensive, often past its prime and rather
The beets coming from this productive Rocky River
garden are far superior in sweetness than anything purchased in
a store. I can rhapsodize about the cucumbers, the varied peppers
and the succulent green beans. The eggplants are making me stretch
to come up with various preparation methods. A few loaves of zucchini
bread are already stored away for the winter.
This plethora of appetizing vegetables already has
me thinking of next year. Where can I make room to grow some of
my own favorite foods? At
present, roses are planted to hog the maximum sunshine. Some of
them will have to go, as I am dealing with more shade than sun for
most of the property. Besides that, Japanese beetles have had much
too much fun on my roses. Some of the bushes are showing their age,
and I can say good-bye to them without much regret. Even in a garden,
the only thing constant is change.
There is one great advantage to planning for a change
come spring. It gives me an opportunity to check the soil and improve
it for spring planting. There is some compost waiting in the wings
to be worked in with the ground. It is hoped that a rotation of plants, along
with enhancing the soil, will yield satisfactory results.
Who knows? Next year I might even get to hear the
voices of some more frogs in my little pond.