Frogs can be your gar­den’s friend



Frogs need your help. Their var­i­ous habi­tats have been largely lost to our de­vel­op­ments, ru­ral and ur­ban, and they are fac­ing other threats from the way we hu­mans live. Species such as the Golden Bell and Australian whistling frogs need clean wa­ter – that is – wa­ter that is free of man­made pol­lu­tants in­clud­ing pes­ti­cides and her­bi­cides, al­though their ponds need not look clear.

They need in­sects to eat too, so a habi­tat where in­sects are poi­soned as a re­sult of our need for un­blem­ished fruit and veg­eta­bles is go­ing to be un­suit­able and po­ten­tially deadly to them. All things con­sid­ered, a thought­ful gar­dener can eas­ily es­tab­lish con­di­tions that frogs en­joy and so in­vite them into their gar­dens. I have lit­tle brown whistlers in mine (pic­tured) and more specif­i­cally, in the bar­rel that sits at the cen­tre of my forest gar­den, partly filled with wa­ter and a sker­rick of frog. It’s cool and clean and (I have to as­sume) full of in­sects, as the lit­tle frogs look well fed. If ev­ery gar­dener had a sim­i­lar habi­tat in their own gar­den, there would be the pos­si­bil­ity of froggy croaks all around town and that would be a won­der­ful thing – tomy ears any­way.


If your ap­ple trees are any­thing like mine, the fruit will be clus­tered to­gether like bunches of grapes. These bunches will need to be re­leased to save them from push­ing each other off the stalk or fail­ing to reach full size. Pick­ing some off is the answer to overly­suc­cess­ful pol­li­na­tion. This leaves space for re­main­ing fruit to swell, so the crop will be heav­ier de­spite fewer in­di­vid­ual fruits. Some peo­ple wait un­til the fruit are larger be­fore thin­ning, then use the pick­ings to make jelly, but I will have to move early, so heavy is the crop. It’s tra­di­tional to re­move cen­tral fruit first, then de­cide how rig­or­ously you want to thin, based on how the clus­ter looks. I scat­ter the thin­nings (un­der trees that are not ap­ples) to avoid cre­at­ing a haven for in­sects or or­gan­isms that could ad­versely af­fect my crop.


Alexan­ders, parsnips, car­rots and fen­nel that set their seed from late spring on­wards re­pro­duce best when their seeds hit the ground while still ten­der, rather than later on when the seeds have hard­ened. Sweet ci­cely (pic­tured IMG_7087) is per­haps the most strik­ing ex­am­ple of a bi­en­nial from the api­aceae or um­bel­lif­erae fam­ily.

This flow­er­ing herb can keep a gar­dener wait­ing for over a year for re­pro­duc­tion by seed, if those seeds are left to turn black and hard. Many of them will still sprout, but not un­til a long pe­riod of wait­ing has passed and the ex­pec­ta­tions of the gar­dener sig­nif­i­cantly fallen. In na­ture, such plants shed seeds en-masse and their re­place­ment seedlings emerge quickly. Stor­ing such seeds in jars for sow­ing the fol­low­ing year is the least ef­fec­tive method of keep­ing those species and va­ri­eties go­ing.


Many na­tive trees are flow­er­ing at the mo­ment and the beauty of those blooms are of­ten over­looked. Mem­bers of the co­prosma fam­ily are dis­play­ing their rib­bon-petalled flow­ers now and un­less you stop and look closely for them, you’ll not no­tice their sub­tle, but beau­ti­ful dis­play. The bees are tak­ing note of what’s on of­fer though, and you will likely see them help­ing them­selves to the nec­tar of the This col­umn is adapted from the weekly e-zine, get grow­ing, from New Zealand Gar­dener mag­a­zine. For gar­den­ing ad­vice de­liv­ered to your in­box ev­ery Fri­day, sign up for Get Grow­ing at: get­grow­ co­prosma flow­ers. If you’re re­ally lucky, there will still be flow­ers on the na­tive lemon­wood, which will de­light you with their rich, vel­vety tex­ture and deep colour. The scent of the lemon­wood – both flow­ers and leaves – is both in­tox­i­cat­ing and be­witch­ing and they are well worth seek­ing out. Moths are pow­er­fully at­tracted to the blooms which seem to ex­ude their strong­est scent at night, when the moths are fly­ing.

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