If You Build It, They will Come…

garden inspiration, garden design, How to create a water garden, backyard habitatAnd They Certainly Are!

When we created the new backyard pond, we set up the foundation of a new ecosystem and it’s growing exponentially. An ecosystem is an ecological community that functions together with its environment as a complete unit.

 

Pollinators 020Our entire family has been enjoying the new pond. I suspected we would, but I was surprised how quickly we all gravitated to it. At any time during the day, one of us can be found at the water’s edge checking on it’s inhabitants. It is well planted, it has a waterfall, 10 goldfish, snails and several new additions that have found us on their own.

Everyday there is something new to discover

garden inspiration, garden design, How to create a water garden, backyard habitatLast week while checking on the baby fish in the original small pond, I discovered that not only are the babies growing, but there were also tadpoles in the water. They already had one set of legs by the time I found them. Now they are small frogs. I thought that was great since we had enjoyed having their parents in that pond over the past few years and remember, I thought everything was destroyed by a predator early this spring. I figure the baby frogs will eventually move into the new larger pond when they are ready.

In the meantime, we kept hearing this low throaty “Boow.” We knew it was a frog but it seemed like such a large noise coming from such small frog babies. I kept trying to catch those little guys making that big noise, but never could.

garden inspiration, garden design, How to create a water garden, backyard habitatWe have 10 goldfish in the new pond; five comets and five shubunkins. They are roughly 3-5″ long. We have trained them to eat once a day around 8 am. We take turns feeding them each day. We sit by the edge watching them gather at their usual feeding spot. We count them, check their overall health & watch the way they interact with one another. It’s great entertainment. When they are not feeding, they can be found schooling together. They float across the pond following the leader and investigating every inch. There are many hiding places which makes it great fun for them and also provides safety from predators.

garden inspiration, garden design, How to create a water garden, backyard habitatMy husband and I get up early and sit by the pond while we enjoy our morning coffee. It’s such a peaceful environment. The morning air is sweet and warm and the light is soft and easy. The sounds of the waterfalls from both the pond and the half barrel water feature running nearby wake your mind up gently.

The best part of morning in the pond is the opening of the water lilies.

Here is a gallery of water lily photos for you to enjoy:

garden inspiration, garden design, How to create a water garden, backyard habitatOur First Frog

One morning while we were sitting together and talking about where that big frog noise was coming from, I noticed that when we heard the “Boow” it was followed by ripples in the new pond. I went to investigate and sure enough, there was a large frog sitting at the base of the pickerel rush plant.

Frog eggsWe were very excited about our new tenant. Later that day we went to check on her (how do I know she is a “she?” I’ll tell you in a minute). She is not shy. Whenever we approach the pond for a closer look she just sits there quietly and occasionally croaks. I was picking out the fallen leaves from the water when I realized one of the leaves was a slimy. Upon closer inspection, I saw frog eggs.

 

garden inspiration, garden design, How to create a water garden, backyard habitat, frogs, amphibiansFrog Went a-Courtin’

The next day, I found another frog. He was shy, unlike our first froggy find. He was much smaller than the first one. I think she found a suitor. It’s possible that her eggs had been fertilized, however by the end of the day there were no eggs to be found. That is the downside of having a pond with fish.

garden inspiration, garden design, How to create a water garden, backyard habitat, Male Blue Dasher DragonflyThe Dragonflies Arrive

The next visitor we noticed was a male Blue Dasher dragonfly. I knew then that this pond had an aquatic Vacancy sign shining like neon at night. This was just the beginning

garden inspiration, garden design, How to create a water garden, backyard habitat, Female Blue Dasher DragonflyThe next time I went out to look at the pond I saw another dragonfly doing a funny dance over the water. I realized quickly that she was moving deliberately and repetitiously. I grabbed my camera and did my best to get it on film. I would later learn that this was the dance of a female Blue Dasher dragonfly laying her eggs. Check out the video below.

 

Did You Know that Frogs Shed their Skin?

When the kids went out to check on the frog, they found her on a rock at the edge of the pond making a funny movement with her mouth. She would open it wide, but there was no noise coming out. I began taking pictures of her because her colors were striking. She was bright olive green, lime green and copper. Her skin shone metallic in the summer sun. It wasn’t until I downloaded the images that we noticed that she was actually eating something. We later learned that it was her skin. Apparently, frogs shed their skin fairly often and eat it as a means to acquire nutrients. If you are curious, check out the gallery below. I’ll warn you it’s not for the squeamish.

I was excited to have frogs in the pond because not only are they fun, but they work as a natural insecticide. They will eat the mosquitos (and other insects) that use the pond to breed. By the way, fish also eat mosquito larvae. I learned in my research that 1/3 of all amphibians are on the verge of extinction. Therefore, I felt good about doing my part to provide a habitat that would support them. Did you know that that there is a Save the Frogs Day? You can find a Save the Frogs event at the end of April each year all over the world. The purpose of these events is to raise awareness of the declining frog populations and to encourage conservation and protective initiatives. For my local Maryland readers, Bethesda hosted an event on April 27th this year. The 2014 date it not yet listed, but be sure to look for it in the New Year. Let’s do our part to save the frogs!

garden inspiration, garden design, How to create a water garden, backyard habitatAn Unusual Guest

Backyard ponds attract all kinds of creatures and insects. One morning, we found this huge beetle floating in the water. No doubt he was a nighttime visitor who got too close to the edge. In all our camping, we had never seen such a beetle before and may not have had he not fallen in our pond. I wonder what else comes to visit in the cover of darkness?

frogs and flowers 026 (2)We dug a hole, filled it with water, provided filtration and protection with plants, added the peaceful sound of falling water (also adds filtration) & stocked it with a few goldfish. In return we got so much more. Our ecosystem is complete and it provide us with new surprises everyday.

Today we discovered that the new fish have already had babies in the new pond. Now we have babies in both ponds! We will be sharing.

Happy Gardening!

 

 

 

 

 

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