A frog’s paradise

Be warned. Tread carefully while walking through this garden. One eye must be attentive to stepping stones that wobble, unbalanced on tree roots, to avoid a nasty tumble. While the other eye might roam to enjoy the garden, beware that every step might end the life of one of dozens, perhaps hundreds of frogs that reside in the garden.

As I wander down stone paths that border ponds, and the stream edged by moss covered rocks, small frogs leap for safety, with only a brave (or foolish) few remaining on some large leaf that arches over the water. There are dozens of splashes as I walk, trowel in hand, prepared for the day’s planting.

Five ponds and dense plantings of trees and understory shrubs and perennials attract wildlife, in particular to shaded parts of the garden. When there is sufficient moisture, even the small areas of sunny lawn are alive with tiny beasts, and often frogs are barely seen until they flee in terror at the approach of this giant beast.

The garden’s shade is not necessary for comfort on this splendid late August afternoon, but now I sit contentedly beneath a tall Japanese maple with the gentle sounds from three ponds that surround me. A pleasant breeze sways treetops of maples and tulip poplars that border the garden. Though summer’s heat is certainly not passed, my morning has been occupied wandering, digging seedlings, and filling the smallest gaps with tiny heucheras, ferns, and hostas. Frogs are encountered every few steps through this part of the garden, mostly small ones, but occasionally bullfrogs.

Rain is not forecast for several days, and the good fortune of summer rainfall from scattered thunderstorms has too often bypassed the garden in recent weeks. So, I am likely to follow my plantings with a bucket of water in the next week so that my tinkering is not wasted effort. The water level in the ponds remains surprisingly high despite meager rainfall, allowing for a convenient dip of the bucket without repeated trips to the spigot.

My wife considers the day that we retire (not soon, we agree), to relocate to a smaller, more easily maintained residence. She knows that this move, if ever, will be delayed until the time that I can no longer manage the garden. The delights of this day confirm that will be a long ways off.

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