I finally figured out why I get so excited about frogs. Specifically, the song of spring peepers (at about 1.5 in long and very camouflaged, they are more often heard than seen) and the sight of wood frogs. It’s the same reason why I so delight in the sight of the first crocuses poking up in my garden—it means spring is finally here!

Sure, winter has its moments. The peace and quiet you find when walking outdoors. The magic of gently falling snow. But for me, by the time the frogs start singing, I’m ready to bid winter goodbye (regardless of the date on the calendar). Most people consider the
“new year” to begin on January 1. But for me, it’s closer to March 1 (side note: come join us for a special members-only spring peeper party on March 15!). It’s when the natural world starts to awaken from its winter sleep. The wood frogs and the peepers literally
“thaw out.” They contain chemicals in their cells that allow them to sit in the leaf litter in the forest or in the crevice of a log and
freeze over without dying. When the weather warms up to above freezing temperatures on a regular basis, they thaw out and start
looking for mates. At the Botanic Garden, this generally happens around the end of February. It starts with singing. Then the eggs are laid and the tadpoles hatch out and continue to grow into the summer months. It’s a process that is fun to track and share with Garden visitors, especially the younger ones.

Of course other life emerges over the course of the spring and summer and the WVBG really comes alive. Likewise, when the first spring bulbs emerge in March, it is also the beginning. The beginning of growth that will continue for many months to come. The world greens and the flowers bloom. From that point on, I can look forward to new colors, shapes, textures, and scents in the gardens on a daily basis. A spring, summer, and fall of daily delights to discover. Then, when winter rolls around again, it is not over. The plants store energy in their roots, bulbs, or seeds. The animals deploy strategies for winter survival. The world is quiet. Until the peepers sing again.

By: Erin Smaldone, Education Director

Originally published in our Spring 2020 newsletter

I was very excited to actually see a spring peeper calling last March!

Photo by Erin Smaldone.

Hellebore, one of the first flowers to bloom at the WVBG.

Photo by Erin Smaldone.

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