In The Weeds
Into the Woods

In the Garden

In 1987, Tom and I bought our first house. (A real fixer-upper, let me tell you. . . ) I was so excited to be able to plant some flowers and maybe start a little vegetable garden in the backyard. (I wasn't a gardener yet, but the seeds had been planted.) What I didn't understand then . . . was that the house we purchased was situated in a town that, at one time long ago, had been a river bed. The entire area was a muck field -- with incredibly dark and rich organic soil perfect for growing . . . pretty much anything. This soil assured my early success in gardening. (I thought it was me; it was the muck.)

But that's all a story for another day.

Today, I have a different early gardening story.


The other day, as I was weeding in one of my garden beds (Front Door North, if you're interested), I noticed the big guy in my photo above . . . crawling around in my sedum. He was a really lovely toad. Bronze and shimmery. Sizable. Probably irritated that I was making him move when he'd really rather not. I love gardening with toads. 

And that got me thinking about the first time I discovered a toad in my garden . . . 

It was back at that first house . . . in the muck fields. Our first spring there, I brought home a flat of red geraniums to plant in the little foundation beds in front of our house. I was so excited! I had my flat of flowers, a little trowel (the one I still use, by the way), and my little gardener's kneeling pad . . . and I dug in. After planting the first few red geraniums, I found my gardening groove. And then, as I dug into the soil to plant another geranium, it . . . moved.

I had disturbed a BIG ol' toad!

I freaked out! 

I shrieked. I threw the trowel and the geranium up in the air and over my head into the yard behind me. I leaped up and back into the yard in one fluid movement. (It must have been quite comical . . .

I wasn't actually afraid of the toad. I was just . . . surprised . . . by the toad. Really surprised. I had never considered that I might encounter something live like that . . . right there in my front yard foundation garden! 

Since that day, I have encountered many, MANY toads while gardening. Sometimes they still surprise me (they camoflage themselves so well, just sitting there in the soil), but never like that first time. I love sharing my gardening space with . . . creatures. Toads and garter snakes. Frogs. Insects. Birds, bees, butterflies. Squirrels and chipmunks and groundhogs and rabbits and possums . (Skunks . . . I'm more leery of. But I know they're out there.)

I make my garden a friendly place . . . for flowers and plants -- and for all the creatures that call my garden "home." And it all started with that one toad, so many years ago.


I hope you all have a restful weekend, with plenty of time in your garden (if that's your kind of thing).


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Oh, wow, he's gorgeous!

That's a great story. I can just picture it...


I can just see you leaping back! I'm with you = toads don't scare me, but it would have been a BIG surprise to have something so close by move. As you well know, you can keep your snakes...those I do not like at all. Mailing's Dad just had a 6' black snake crawling along his azalea! YIKES!! Enjoy your weekend Kym. It is gonna be HOT here.


When I was about 13 we visited my Aunt Nona in CA and while we were sitting in the back yard big toads would hop up to us and just croak their funny croak. I'd never seen anything like that in UT. I loved it and touching their pebbly skin was amazing! We have garter snakes (and other birds and critters) but no frogs or toads. Your garden is so lush and verdant. You're a born gardener.

kim in oregon

I'll shriek at snakes but not toads (although if they jumped out at me I'd shriek).


I'd be happy to find toads in my garden. Snakes? Not so much. Thankfully, I've only ever seen one, and at the time I mistook it for a hose (but then I saw it moving). Because I've realized that I don't have a ton of luck with growing food in my garden, I've been trying to do more for the pollinators. We have a section of Russian sage along our driveway that actually migrated from our former neighbor's side years ago, and it's so pretty that I just let it go. But then I noticed that the bees love it, so I transplanted some to our backyard where we have a rather bare area. I'm hoping it'll grow well there and we'll have a big section of it in several years!


I love me a good old toad! I had the little guy in my flowers summer 2019 but he didn't return last year. What are your thoughts on toad houses?


You're right ... it's not the animal. It's the element of surprise.

My first encounter with a tree frog was when WE had our first house in Orlando and I was watering the palm tree. A tree frog jumped out (itty-bitty thing) and stuck to my glasses.

After I got over the shock, I walked calmly into the house so everyone else could get a good laugh. What sticks with me isn't so much the feel and the schoopy sound when he stuck. LOL


What a great gardening perspective! I really loved it. Not gardening, but tiny creature-related brought to mind by the unexpectedness of your toad and the tree-frog-on-glasses stories. We had crickets for awhile in our house in the mid-Atlantic. One morning, still half asleep, I started to drink from my bedside water glass when I felt a flutter in my mouth. By the time It hit me that it was a live cricket, it had already been swallowed. No more flutter. But lots of screaming - not useful except to let the horror out...You can buy little red or white plastic drinking glass toppers at Crate and Barrel. Used to cost a buck, now a bit more. Old jar lids are cheaper but the Crate and Barrel ritual is somehow comforting and feels more secure.


I can SO picture you with that first toad encounter, great description of your reaction! I'm with you on everything but the possums, those can stay far away please.


I'm slowly catching up here today and love coming upon this story! You describe it so well--it's not that you're afraid, just completely caught off guard! Such camouflage! Have to say, though...I'm still not a snake fan. Mice, fine. Snakes, no...

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