We came home from dinner last night to find actual frogs, sitting on genuine lily pads in our pond. Real wildlife. In our pond. Technically the one in the picture is a froglet, because it still has a tail. Nonetheless, they are out and about. Any day now we might hear them bok.
There is nearly always a frog on a lily pad now. Despite the numerous different plants in the pond, many of which have large, flat, floating, lily-like leaves, they really do seem to prefer the lily pads. There is one lounging there at this very moment – I can tell, because my kids are running in and out of the door every two minutes shouting “he’s still there, Mummy! Come and look!!!”
The frogs are remarkably bold – the photo above was taken by my husband, who first had to lift the wire cover (known as the “kid catcher”) off the pond, and then get the camera up nice and close, and the frog just sat there, quite unperturbed. They seem perfectly happy to share this space with us, and any time the kids get a little too enthusiastic they just plop back into the pond. It’s never long before another one appears.
It’s amazing to have these gorgeous, and surprisingly tiny creatures sharing our block. We have always had a pretty good collection of wild visitors, especially lots of small native birds. We have a pair of spotted pardalotes who regularly knock at our toy corner window, lots of silvereyes, and a range of small, fast birds that refuse to sit still and be identified.
We get parrots and galahs by the flock, and magpies, currawongs and butcher birds are regular visitors. We have possums galore going BOOM thumpa thumpa thumpa on the roof in the night.
Most of this is due to our wild space. It is a smallish urban garden, but apart from some lawn out the back for the kids to play on, most of it is stuffed with native plants happily running riot. Our garden is not of the manicured lawn & precision garden bed variety. It is a wild and crazy place, with plenty of places to hide. There are no pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilizers of any kind – compost and mulch are our main tools.. It took a while after we moved in for the small birds to reappear, because the previous owners were heavy on the poisons, but now we have many different species.
We also have a birdbath that we try to keep filled. The birds can’t drink from the pond because of the kidcatcher, which also serves to keep our frogs safe from hungry magpies & butcher birds.
We do have some slightly more organised spaces with veggies and fruit trees, but even those are mostly surrounded by a profusion of undergrowth and wilderness. Wild gardens offer so much – plant and animal diversity, habitat and hiding places for native animals, and the joy of discovery. They can also provide wonderful shade and magic places to sit and watch the life teeming around you.
It’s not hard to create wild gardens, even on small, urban blocks. Reduce your lawn (think of all the mowing you won’t have to do!) and fill the spaces with native plants. It’s a labour of love, and the rewards… well… there is every chance the rewards may go bok and look amazingly fetching on a lily pad.