Work on the Amphibian Pond

By Ted Farnworth The amphibian pond has been helped and hurt by the record rains that we have experienced. The good news is that many of the plants that we planted in the spring have done well thanks to the frequent downpours. But the rains have also encouraged rapid growth of many types of weeds that are competing with our new plantings. In addition, the torrential rains badly eroded the crushed stone pathway around the pond, and washed crushed stone and topsoil in to the pond. It seems that the dredging we did last fall has also encouraged the growth of flowering rush and so this invasive aquatic plant has just about taken over the pond.

A variety of weeds and flowering rush have taken over in the pond and surrounding banks

Small groups are now trying to play catch up at the pond, to make the pathway safe, to weed around plants we want to survive and flourish, to remove flowering rush and to start introducing other types of aquatic plants.

This past Saturday, a small group of eager volunteers made great progress on the pond and its surroundings. The pathway is now open again, weeding helped uncover many of the plants we stared in the spring, and more of the pond is now free of flowering rush.
Thanks to all who helped. The giant tadpoles, and several frogs seemed to appreciate our efforts.

 

  

 

 

A little weeding gives plants a better chance to grow on the pond banks

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The regeneration begins

by John Davidson

Michelle and other volunteers planted 1100 native plants on the south side of our pond today.

One of the highlights of Fletcher Wildlife Garden—the Amphibian Pond—has undergone a major, and necessary reconstruction since last fall.

Over the years, the pond had become a victim of invasive plant species which had overrun the area, had choked native plant life, and was seriously affecting the viability of the habitat, and the many birds, animals, amphibians and insects that called it home.

As early as 2006, it was clear that the pond was in trouble. An FWG post that year said that “Flowering rush grew exponentially until it covered all open water. frog-bit also became a problem. It and duckweed covered the surface by July, preventing sunlight from getting to the underwater plants that keep the water oxygenated.”

Elizabeth, starting at the west end of the pond. The seedlings were grown for us by Budd Gardens from seed we collected last fall.

After much debate and analysis, it was decided that the best solution to the problem was to dredge the pond, clearing out the invasive species, and replanting the area with more benign native plants. The dredging was done last fall, and for a while, the pond looked more like a construction zone than a wildlife oasis.

Now, however, the regeneration has begun. And already new, native growth has begun to take hold.

On May 27, an army of Fletcher Wildlife Garden staff and volunteers began planting 1100 native seedlings on the banks surrounding the water. Species included pollinator favourites, like milkweed, sneezeweed, asters, and goldenrods, as well as butterfly hosts, like Pearly Everlasting. Staff also put up a fence to protect the tender plants until they establish themselves. Loose-running dogs and young seedlings don’t mix.

The pond is already once again becoming a magnet for wetland wildlife: frogs, turtles, toads, red-winged blackbirds, and bats have all returned, and even a sandpiper was spotted the other day — a first for the Fletcher Wildlife Garden.

It will take a season for Mother Nature to work her magic. To see it happen, make a point of walking by the pond every couple of weeks or so, watching the new seedlings grow, develop and mature. By the fall—certainly by this time next year—the native plants should have taken hold, and the pond will once again look as if it’s been there, undisturbed, for years.

We are very grateful that a generous bequest from OFNC member, Violetta Czasak, allowed us to take on this complex and long-term project. Thanks also to Diane Lepage, who spent many many hours embroiled in paperwork and negotiations to get the work started.

Melanie, hard at work planting Heart-leaved Asters