A curious frog comes closer

Frogs! Who doesn’t love frogs? They have their own funny personalities and are integral to a water garden’s survival. Frogs eat insects and contribute to the ecosystem in the pond. And they are great fun to watch!

My Ponds Project brought all sorts of frogs to my garden. In fact, during my rebuilding of my front pond in A Water Gardening Remake project, a leopard frog was so excited that it jumped into the water as I was filling the pond basin — and refused to come back out!

A frog sits on the edge of the waterfall, enjoying the rushing water, in this video below.

Frogs have such funny personalities. This frog seems to be the “lead frog” in my backyard’s bottom pond. Lots of croaking and hopping around. There are four frogs visible in this video, including a small bullfrog that recently lost its tail, and had overwintered as a giant tadpole in the pond. Watch this video below.

Here’s a photo of the bullfrog tadpole that overwintered in the pond.

A bullfrog tadpole that was born in October and overwintered in the pond

A bullfrog tadpole that was born in October and overwintered in the pond

This curious frog below just made me laugh. I was filming the croaking frog and then looked down, and this one was about 6 inches from where I was sitting next to the pond. Too cute.

A curious frog comes closer

A curious frog comes closer

Tree frogs are also in abundance in our area. Usually, during an evening rainstorm, the tree frogs become extremely loud, chirping and chirping to each other. This gray tree frog was sitting on my wrought iron patio chair.

A gray tree frog sits patiently on a patio chair

A gray tree frog sits patiently on a patio chair

If you want frogs to come to your garden, build a water feature! They will come within a few days. Here’s a view of my backyard ponds.

Two of my back yard ponds from The Ponds Project

Two of my back yard ponds from The Ponds Project

Based on a visit to my front pond last summer and seeing the frogs in residence, my next door neighbors embarked on a pond building excursion of their own. This year, frogs arrived, and laid eggs in their pond. The tadpoles are still swimming around, so no adult frogs yet. Their pond gets far more sun than mine, and is larger. A lily pad is flowering for the first time this week!

The lily pad blooms in my neighbors' new pond

The lily pad blooms in my neighbors’ new pond (Photo Credit: C. Mattusch)

Do you have frogs in your garden? How did yours arrive? Do you have a water feature? Leave a comment and let us know!

My amazing oakleaf hydrangeas are very prolific with flowers this year.

My Summer Garden is beginning to bloom. Each year I wonder what will survive and what will thrive.

We had a pretty nasty long cold winter this year. Lots of snow and ice and cold weather that lingered about two weeks longer than normal. So far, it appears that some plants did very well with the additional precipitation and cold air, and others didn’t do well at all. One example of a plant that did well — my oakleaf hydrangeas. Take a look at the abundance of flowers. I have a number of oakleaf hydrangea plants. Most are the “snowflake” variety with huge showy double flowers up to 24 inches in length! I have two “snow queen” plants with smaller more upright flowers. Oakleaf hydrangeas lose their leaves in the fall yet their stems look like “peeling bark” for winter interest in the garden.

My amazing oakleaf hydrangeas are very prolific with flowers this year.

My amazing oakleaf hydrangeas are very prolific with flowers this year.

Huge oakleaf hydrangea flowers are bee-attractants.

Huge oakleaf hydrangea flowers are bee-attractants.

This is just one oakleaf hydrangea plant!

This is just one oakleaf hydrangea plant!

Oakleaf hydrangeas have showy flowers, are deer-resistant, and like shady gardens.

Oakleaf hydrangeas have showy flowers, are deer-resistant, and like shady gardens.

Another surprise for me this year includes the blooming of a purple loosestrife plant. It’s been in my garden since 1998, and it was sitting in a pot prior to that. This poor plant is loved by the deer population and has only flowered two or three times since it was planted. This year it flowered!!! Purple loosestrife is reportedly invasive. The deer in my neighborhood have certainly kept down the invasive nature of this plant by eating its flowers.

Purple spires bloom next to the fountain.

Purple spires bloom next to the fountain.

Pretty purple flowers bloom for the first time in years -- normally browsed by local deer

Pretty purple flowers bloom for the first time in years — normally browsed by local deer

Another favorite plant is the spirea. I love the feathery look to the flowers. Spirea seems to be a bee haven, as it’s covered by all sorts of insects when in flower. I have two types of spirea. One is Spirea “Gold Flame” which has a nice deep pink flower with chartreuse leaves. The other type is Spirea “Shirobana” with a combination of white, light pink, and deep pink flowers all on one plant. Spirea is not seen in a lot of gardens in my area, and certainly becomes quite the conversation piece. Spirea bushes look great in a mass planting.

Pretty pink and white spirea in bloom.  Love this bush!

Pretty pink and white spirea in bloom. Love this bush!

My Lady in Red hydrangea has taken off this year. I pruned it back severely in the Spring, or so I thought. It’s full of blooms that start out blue, turn to light pink, and then to a deep red later in summer. Lady in Red’s stems are a deep red which makes it unique for winter interest in the garden. And this plant spawned four “babies” that I have moved to other areas of the garden. My other hydrangeas did not fare well this winter. With the exception of the Pee Gee hydrangeas, they all died back to the ground. Nikko Blue and Mother’s Day will likely not flower again until next year.

The Lady in Red hydrangea is blooming alongside the ponds.

The Lady in Red hydrangea is blooming alongside the ponds.

Lady in Red Hydrangea first blooms in blue then the flowers change to pink and then a deep red.  She also has red stems.  Love this plant!

Lady in Red Hydrangea first blooms in blue then the flowers change to pink and then a deep red. She also has red stems. Love this plant!

Next to bloom will be my buddelia — butterfly bushes. I have white, lavender, and deep purple butterfly bushes. They reseed themselves as well, so babies will abound. The butterflies and bees love the butterfly bushes and the flowers have a very sweet fragrance.

Also, indicative of summer are the tadpoles in the whiskey barrel pond. There are maybe 20 tadpoles of several kinds of frogs including tree frogs and wood frogs. So far, I haven’t yet seen evidence of baby fish in the other ponds. Time will tell.

A tadpole in the whiskey barrel pond

A tadpole in the whiskey barrel pond

What’s happening in YOUR summer garden? Leave a comment and let us know!!!

A large frog rests on a bed of moss at one of my backyard ponds

Finally, it appears that Spring has sprung! The deciduous trees have a slight green tinge at the tops, and bulbs are up and blooming. The grass is greener. The birds are starting to build nests. The fish are moving around in my ponds. Yes, I think that Spring has arrived here in Northern Virginia!

Daffodils blooming profusely even with the harsh winter season

Daffodils blooming profusely even with the harsh winter season

Over the weekend, I saw a few frogs basking in the 70 degree sunshine. Below is the “master” frog who lives in one of my backyard ponds. It’s funny how the frogs just know that I’m not going to hurt them and watch me without moving. This one seemed to be oblivious to my presence as I was removing the pond mesh from the ponds.

A large frog rests on a bed of moss at one of my backyard ponds

A large frog rests on a bed of moss at one of my backyard ponds

If you have an outdoor pond, you might want to refer to my earlier posting about How to Ready a Pond for Spring.

It’s quite amazing how the landscape has “greened” in just the few days that we have experience warmer weather. My gorgeous deep pink Cherokee Brave dogwood which was moved from the shady backyard last Spring, is now in full bloom. It wasn’t getting enough sun under the tree canopy. Two other Cherokee Brave dogwoods will be moved in the next few weeks to the front yard where it’s far more sunny. They have no blooms this year in the shady backyard. Be careful when your garden center personnel tell you that an understory tree such as a dogwood will take “large canopy tree shade.” The understory tree may grow, but it might not flower without much sunlight.

A Cherokee Brave Dogwood blooms in my front property

A Cherokee Brave Dogwood blooms in my front property

And here’s a close-up of this gorgeous Cherokee Brave dogwood bloom!

My favorite dogwood has deep pink flowers -- the Cherokee Brave dogwood

My favorite dogwood has deep pink flowers — the Cherokee Brave dogwood

I just love surprises. Found this little violet that is happily growing in between the stones and bricks in one of my patios.

A little violet volunteer popped up in my patio

A little violet volunteer popped up in my patio

One of the first azaleas to bloom in my landscape is a lavender colored one. It’s also deciduous which means it loses its leaves in the winter. I always know that Spring has arrived when this azalea blooms.

My lavender-colored deciduous azalea is one of the first to bloom in my garden.  Luckily, I have five of them!!

My lavender-colored deciduous azalea is one of the first to bloom in my garden. Luckily, I have five of them!!

My front bed has been taken over by some lovely deep green vinca. The vinca has gorgeous lavender-colored flowers which offset its green leaves. The daffodils in my front bed are flowering well this year.

Daffodils and periwinkle vinca bloom in my front garden.  The spirea is coming along nicely with its chartreuse leaves.

Daffodils and periwinkle vinca bloom in my front garden. The spirea is coming along nicely with its chartreuse leaves.

One of my favorite woodsy ground covers is the may apple. The may apples have very large leaves that might appear as intimidating plants in the Alice in Wonderland story or other childhood fable. I love them. The may apples have large white blooms underneath their leaves on the stems. The flowers will fade into a green fruit that gives the may apple its name!

Mayapples are coming up in my fenced back yard.  They will have white flowers soon, and their apple-like fruit will set.

Mayapples are coming up in my fenced back yard. They will have white flowers soon, and their apple-like fruit will set.

Has Spring Sprung in your garden? Leave me a comment and let me know what’s blooming at your home.