Our garden was a barren wasteland when we moved in. Literally. It was a newly-built house and everything beyond the first four feet next to the house was a rock-laden clay soil, all the way to the back of the property line and beyond. The builders let all the lovely topsoil wash away. Not good.
The garden is very much still a work in progress, but it has been fulfilling my "beautiful and useful" dream quite nicely. Since the first flower bloomed, birds and butterflies have been visiting. (Please don't interrupt my upbeat mood with reminders of voles, skunks, and stinkbugs.) Here is a surprise resident:
I discovered this toad when I was filling up the garden fountain. Luckily, my phone was in my pocket, so I was able to steal a picture. This was the best I could do; he didn't want his photo taken and he moved very quickly, the moment I hovered the phone over his head. He scurried under the plastic I put down to deter weeds from growing around the fountain.
Taking a look at Google Maps, it's hard to know precisely where this chubby friend began his life. The most permanent water source to our garden is at least 500 feet away, as the crow flies. After leaving that pond, though, any toad coming to our garden has to travel through a tree line as well as a few neighbors' gardens before he'd make it here.
However he journeyed, I'm glad he's here. Toads are beneficial to the garden.
I'll have to approach the fountain more carefully in the future, if I want a glimpse of our toad.