Pesticides and Gardens

Purple flowers near the Erie Canal location of A Frog House.

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Lindsay Graham lives on the edge of the Erie Canal. The groundskeeper had been using pesticides. The gardener said that if Lindsay didn’t want pesticides, she had to find someone else do the work. That someone turned out to be me.

What were previously barren gardens with toxic colored mulch or filled with weeds and sprayed with pesticides, where new plantings have struggled to survive, are now areas of year round color and delight.

canalside gardens

We removed broken glass, and tidily stacked left over lumber and old bricks behind the hedges.

There isn’t a day that I stand near the gardens on the slope to the canal, that most people who go by on the path don’t tell me how lovely, beautiful, impressive, etc they are. Many have said that they are a real gift to passersby.


As if that weren’t enough reward, I also learned that the property on that slope technically belongs to the Erie Canal Authority, so it felt more like a public service than enhancing another person’s private property.

One thing led to another. The property has a canal side cottage, previously used as a law library, which was in disrepair. The spackle on the ceiling was just half finished, there was a non functioning telephone hookup needing a cover, the high inside window needed to be trimmed, and the rotten, ant infested threshold needed replacement. So, with good help from Ed*, we fixed all that, and gave the interior a nice new paint job, with (of course) green trim.

Next, to give purpose to the space, we put in an art hanging and lighting system, ordered frog outdoor flags, door mats, curtains, and carpet, reprints of my book Froggy Family’s First Frolic, and started painting some frog portraits. I have no end of frogabilia that people have given me over the years to put on the shelves along with the books. Voila! On October 21, from 12 to 5 pm, we will have a genuine Frog House (no peeking inside until then).

Blue dish

Lindsay had spotted a frog near the house, so I wondered how we could protect him or her over the winter. The next project turned out to be to finish the gardens and build a frog friendly habitat.

That was as easy as purchasing four dishes, which must be at least one foot in diameter, some plants, and some rocks. Galleas sold us one frog house (a glazed upside down pot with an opening).

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According to the directions, once everything is in place, we should have some frogs within a few weeks, just in time for our Frog House Grand Opening! (see your Invitation here)

*a special shoutout to Kate Baker (not shown), Alex Doolittle (not shown), and top to bottom, Tony Mikiciuk, Ed Wegman, Laurie Bennett, (me) Theresa LaPietra, Lindsay Graham (cheerleader in chief) and Christine Rodriguez for their physical labor once or twice or a million times on the Frog Estate.

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