bookends to a great gardening season

littleguyWE OPENED THE SEASON HERE WITH A SALAMANDER, whom I’d fished from the little pool out back while mucking out debris.  Trusty garden helper and small-game handler Susan held him for his portrait, and we both enjoyed the moment (not sure he did), a special kickoff to spring. This week, as we began fall cleanup, another omen: The littlest frogboy ever hijacked a ride indoors.

“Susan,” I hollered, “I need a hand…literally.” And so as she got him ready for his photo op, extracting him from the bromeliad he was hiding in (the one that used to outside, not inside, the kitchen door), I ran for the camera.

littleguy3He was hard to key out in the guidebooks, frankly (a step I always take when I meet a new frogboy). He was tiny like a spring peeper, but lacked the typical dark X pattern on his back that they have. And he was too small (and in the wrong ‘hood by many, many miles) to be anything else, or so it seemed.

But finally, thanks to the University of Michigan’s Museum of Zoology website, I got the secret: He’s a yearling gray treefrog, which accounts for his mere half-adult size. Read more about this changeable creature, whom we gently returned to the place where the houseplant had been, and watched as he hopped through the grass and up a large leaf nearby.

littleguy2I live for these serendipities: When we began opening up the garden, we were served an Eastern Spotted salamander; when we began closing it, a gray treefrog. Bookends on an eventful debut blogging season, with a red newt and a lot of big, sexy frogboys in between. Magic.


  1. naomi says:

    Frogs caused my lurking at your site. That one is beautiful. I’m trying to encourage more in my tiny courtyard here In New Orleans. I thought I saw an odd fly one day on the bricks, but on looking closer, realized it was a tiny brown frog with a black “V” on its back. I often wondered if that was an adult. Your pictures are inspiring.

  2. Cameron says:

    The tiny tree frogs often “stick” to the windows on our French doors, giving us a great opportunity to see them up close. Yesterday, I found a very large toad in the garden, tucked up in the butterfly ginger. There is another one that lives in the dry streambed who watches me whenever I pull weeds out from the rocks. I also had a bright orange Eastern Mud Salamander hidden in the ice plant back in the early spring. Wildlife watching is certainly fun! Cameron

  3. margaret says:

    Welcome, Porter…and thanks for the positive feedback. He really was adorable, and like the size of my thumbnail.

    Welcome also to Naomi, and likewise thank you for the compliment on the pictures. I am trying…photography is not my expertise, but it’s very enjoyable and I am learning. It is fascinating from your comment and the others here already (Melinda’s, Cameron’s, Rosemary’s…) to think of the diversity in these creatures. I worry when I read how pressured they are all around the world.

    @Chris: Yes, snakes live in the garden as well. Not so crazy about them, but respect them and would never hurt one. Somehow disinclined to crawl around photographing them as I do the frogs… :)

  4. Dizzydog says:

    My garden is a home for an assortment of various sized toads. They are not a cute as your tree frog but they have a kind of weird and funny charm. I am fascinated by them. They each have their own territory and seem to be watching me as intently and as intelligently as I watch them. I believe that they were put on this earth to reassure us that God does have a sense of humor.

  5. margaret says:

    Welcome, Dizzydog. A wonderful way of expressing it: Yes, toads are humor incarnate. The Latin name for the genus they are in, Bufo, also strikes me as funny somehow. I have a giant of a toad in my barn, and another under the stoop by the house, and I adore them. And you are right: they watch us like we watch them, or appear to. Thanks for visiting.

  6. margaret says:

    Indeed, Gardenboy. I believe in a 365-day garden, as you know. It’s the official start of the “cleanup” season for me, the end/closing of the tender parts of the garden…but by no means an end.

  7. gardenboy says:

    End of the season? Fall may have arrived on Monday morning, but we have a long way to go before we can write the end to this garden year.

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