a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Amphibian emergency escape route installed


I have posted several times about our old well that is just outside our patio doors (The old well, The well in winter, Well shock).  I had always considered it a good environment for the newts, frogs and toads that appeared to be making their home there.

I was, therefore, quite upset and resistant to a comment that suggested that amphibians could be trapped inside the well.  However, as confirmation of this possibility came from Arc Trust , a respected amphibian and reptile organisation, I took heed.  I could not bear to think of harming the very creatures we are so fond of.  However, I would like to point out that I have never found any remains of animals in the well.

Certain creatures such as toads and lizards can fall down straight sided pits and be unable to climb out.  Examples of such pits are drains, that you frequently see by the roadside, meter pits, external basements and old wells.  Wildlife organisations have been trying to highlight the need for the placement of materials to allow the animals to escape.  One of the most promising materials is a capillary matting called Enkamat which is actually used for erosion control, among other uses.

enkomat matting in well

In the interim period I had placed a very bendy branch which I had notched at the suggestion of Tim from Art en Saule.  I think I will leave the branch in place now that there is free access and exit for all.

The netting dropped over the side easily.

Enkamat netting

This closer photo shows the 3D nature of the matting that provides a good grip for toes.

secured on grill

The grill was then replaced on top of the matting and the matting attached to the grill with a plastic garden tie.

bottom of well

Yesterday was cold and any well occupants were not to be seen probably tucked up in the crevices.

I would also like to thank Susan of Days on the Claise who (as always) has supported me with extra information and the benefit of her wide experience with the natural world.

In addition, I would like to recommend to anyone who would like to learn more about amphibian and reptile conservation to visit the Arc Trust site.  I am particularly grateful to all the help Peter Hill the South Wales Habitat Creation Officer has given to me enabling to make a habitat safer in France, which is a bit outside his area.


I’d like to think all the reptiles and amphibians in the garden are as happy now as this Mediterranean tree frog (Hyla meridionalis).  I took this photograph a few years ago in March, the garden is not as green as this, yet!

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

30 thoughts on “Amphibian emergency escape route installed

  1. Excellent work Amelia.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow! A great idea! I have created something like this for the bird baths and the lily pond.


  3. Small scale victories like this one can add up to big gains for these challenged critters. Thank you for educating us!


  4. That looks excellent stuff, Amelia…
    anything falling in must be able to scale that or the branch!!

    And I must say…
    that really is one SMUG looking tree frog…
    love it!


  5. If only everyone looked out for the creatures of this earth as you do.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A happy ending for all!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m betting that you will still find the well full of amphibians. I don’t think they fell in at all. I think they went there because it’s the right environment for them and they found plenty to eat.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your amphibians are certainly well-cared for. 🙂


  9. Your well is a window into another world – it reminds me of a children’s programme. Also, I love the contented tree toad, what a happy creature!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks Amelia. I was happy to help and I learnt a lot from Peter too. ARC is a fantastic organisation. Where did you get the Enkamat from in the end? I suspect Leroy Merlin sell it, but their website is so useless I couldn’t tell for sure. I need to go into the shop and personally check but the nearest one is an hour away.


  11. What a good idea the matting is Amelia, it looks unobtrusive too and thank you too for the links, the Amphibian and Reptile conservation site looks brilliant, I shall investigate some more.


  12. We have window wells that surround sub-terrain windows. Periodically I do find a frog stuck there, and have left a branch in the well for escape purposes. I like the matting idea, but getting it to stay in place seems tricky.


  13. Good work. I imagine there are some yummy edibles for your amphibian friends down there so now they can come and go to the buffet.


  14. That big fat tree frog is superb. What a character – and well catered for in your garden. D


  15. This is a very heartening story and I, for one, have learnt a lot from it, so thank you.


  16. All well that ends well. Now I’m wondering about the giant spiders that seem to enjoy our bath. We normally have a length of string tied round a tap down to the plughole, but I’m now wondering if Enkamat might be a more sophisticated and stylish solution… RH


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