Garden Photo of the Day

A Garden for Frogs, Toads, Bees, and Butterflies

Welcoming all manner of life into the garden

Kimberly Hennelly is sharing photos today of her garden and the various nonhuman visitors she welcomes into the space.

I wanted to share some photos of the frogs and pollinators from my backyard. I am in Zone 6 in Vernon, New Jersey. I actually plant specifically for pollinators. Bee balm (Monarda sp.), butterfly weed (Asclepiastuberosa, Zones 3–9), fennel, buddleia, echinacea, hummingbird mint (Agastache sp.), black and blue salvia (Salviaguaranitica ‘Black and Blue’, Zones 7–10 or as annual), etc. I grow lots and lots of flowers. I also have habitats for monarch larvae and hatch them.

An adorable toad (I think an American toad, Anaxyrus americanus) hanging out on a group of rose blossoms. Seeing amphibians like frogs and toads in your garden is always a good sign. Not only do they have a voracious appetite for pests like slugs, but amphibians are also very sensitive to pollutants and many insecticides because they easily absorb many chemicals through their skin. So seeing amphibians in the garden is a good sign you’ve made a safe space for many animals to thrive.

Another happy little toad, this time hanging out on some daisies. When toads first switch from tadpole to their adult form, the young toads, sometimes called toadlets, often leave the water in a large group, so you may see lots of tiny toads in the garden all at once.

A female ruby-throated hummingbird. Plants with long, tubular, red flowers are often adapted to be pollinated by hummingbirds. But hummingbirds don’t just feed on nectar; they also eat insects and spiders as a large part of their diet and an important source of protein, particularly for females preparing to lay eggs. So to keep your hummingbirds happy, provide lots of nectar, but also avoid using insecticides that will kill off the insects they, and many other birds, depend on.

The iconic monarch butterfly

Black swallowtail butterfly

A gray tree frog. These tiny frogs are common over a wide swath of eastern North America. Avoid insecticidal sprays to make sure they have plenty of food in your garden.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/20/2019

    What a captivating group of photos, Kimberly....the flowers are beautiful and the critters are delightful. I'm always tickled when I spot a little tree frog tucked in the throat of a flower or a small crevice of a tree...I consider them a sign of good luck for a happy day. The picture with the swallowtail on the stunning coral dahlia is mesmerizing...I've gone back to look at it several times already.

  2. User avater
    simplesue 06/20/2019

    Wow! Your photography is phenomenal! Especially the monarch- I felt like it was right before my eyes it was so clear!
    I like your garden philosophy of welcoming all manner of life into the garden, and supporting and attracting it with what you plant. I love the little toads! Do you have a water feature that attracts them? How do you get toads to come to the garden? I wish Fine Gardening would do a magazine article on a garden such a yours. Love your plant choices too. I'm in Pittsburgh zone 6b and have a Black and Blue Salvia that comes up every year in this zone. Only one has established it's self like this. I was wondering if you have any that return like a perennial in zone 6 also? Again- fabulous garden philosophy and photos!

  3. cheryl_c 06/20/2019

    A garden for insects, amphibians and reptiles- exactly what every garden should be! You've rolled out the welcome mat for these fellow creatures, and they have so multiplied the interest and beauty of your garden. Thanks so much for sharing - and your flowers are beautiful too!

  4. User avater
    user-7007816 06/20/2019

    It is always fun to discover the other creatures that enjoy and often need our gardens. Great set of photos.

  5. Musette1 06/20/2019

    omgosh! those frogs & toads are adorable! I get a lot of them in early Spring, then, despite the abundance of bugs and toad houses and amphibian-friendly borders, they disappear from my garden - alas )or maybe I'm just not looking closely enough). I never see any on flowers (I thought you'd placed them on those flowers for the photos!). Congratulations on such a varied group!

  6. btucker9675 06/20/2019

    We love our toads and frogs, too! I just wish I could convince my neighbors not to have pesticides sprayed... I half bury broken clay pots in my garden to provide little shelters for the toads. Thank you for these wonderful photos and for caring about the small creatures.

  7. judithcesaroboyle 06/20/2019

    Your photos are beautiful. How do you capture so many on camera? Is your camera always close by? By the time I take to run into the house to get mine, the moment is gone. Kudos to you and your beautiful, life-filled garden!

  8. carolineyoungwilliams 06/20/2019

    Kimberly, your photos were awesome. I enjoyed reading the information as much as I enjoyed the flowers and all of God's creations that you are blessing. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful garden.

  9. hummerlu 06/20/2019

    Wonderful pictures. I love inviting nature into my garden as well and enjoy taking their pics. I also wish more gardeners would forego pesticides. I just left a gardening group because I was tired of trying to convince other members to stop using Sevin. While I get plenty of frogs, toads and birds in my garden I see fewer and fewer bees. Thank you for caring too.

  10. [email protected] 06/20/2019

    Thanks for sharing pics and info- I have spring frogs that seem to disappear , like musettel. Very rarely use any chemicals so wonder how I can keep them around. And I didn't even know Sevin was still around! Hard to believe a garden group would embrace that these days. Great photos!

  11. Sunshine111 06/22/2019

    Your photography is some of the most stunningly gorgeous that I have seen in quite a while. It is a beautiful reflection of you. Namaste

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