Gardening News Navigation
jill, houghton, garden, services, maintenance, design, landscaping, stratford-upon-avon, bidford-on-avon, evesham, warwickshire, worcestershire, hedging, weeding, pruning, tree work, tree surgery, landscape gardening, paving, timber, decking, planting, driveway, fencing, patio, water feature.
There’s a park near me. It’s a great place to escape the urban sprawl. There, I’ve spotted eight species of bumblebee (including a winter buff-tailed colony), plus honey, solitary and feather-footed bees. I’ve also seen butterflies, great spotted woodpeckers, witnessed blackbirds and robins fighting over territory, and sat a little too close to a wasps’ nest.
It’s generally a very good habitat for wildlife: there’s a mass of ivy to provide food and shelter for all manner of creatures, and something in flower all year round. I’ve never seen a frog there but I know they’re about as last year the pond was full of frogspawn and tadpoles. That was, until the pond was drained in spring.
I never found out why the pond was drained. It was filled in again in late-summer. But, as I watched the tadpoles swim in an ever decreasing puddle of muddy water, I realised I would have to intervene. I try not to intervene with events in the natural world, but I consider the draining of a man-made pond to be quite unnatural, and besides, I like getting muddy. On a particularly hot summer’s day I grabbed a spade and plastic container and rescued the tadpoles. I got as many as I could, but it was hard as the water had by then completely dried up and they were fully submerged in the mud. But I did my best, and re-homed them, transporting them on the Tube to a friend in Tottenham. I’ve since visited them as baby frogs, seemingly unharmed by their ordeal.
But why would you drain a pond in spring? Isn’t spring the most crucial time of year for wildlife? And it’s not just ponds. In February I witnessed the clearing of shrubs and ivy by some councils – which were surely providing shelter for numerous hibernating creatures – and I’ve also seen contractors trimming hedges in May. Would they have checked for nesting birds?
As gardeners we’re conditioned to work with wildlife. We avoid tidying borders in winter, trimming hedges in nesting season, and are frequently reminded of the benefits of having a pond. But this message doesn’t always seem to filter through to local authorities. It must be hard enough coming out of hibernation, without your hibernaculum being dug up, chopped down and bagged, ready for municipal waste disposal. And, if by some miracle you survive that, you find your breeding ground has gone.
Can these jobs not be done in late-summer, when the birds have fledged, before creatures settle down to hibernate?
The pond in the park has been drained again this year, only this time I phoned the council. It didn’t do any good. The welfare of the frogs is a top priority for them, apparently, just not enough to fill the pond in again in time for spawning.