The best, however, was a cricket frog I startled while digging around on the low hillside on the far side of the yard.* He glared at me.
"I'm doing this for your benefit, you know," I said. The frog appeared unimpressed. I suspect that I was much happier to see him than he was to see me.
To my delight, the wild quinine, which I had about written off, has put out teeny little nubules of leaves. Yay! And something else came back as well. Unfortunately, the tag did not. It's probably either gaillardia or coreopsis. Probably. I think. It formed a pretty heavy stem last autumn, anyhow.
Carolina geranium popped up in the bed too. I'm leaving it alone for now. It shows up on the weed lists, but it's a native and not hurting anybody (and endangered in some parts of the northeast.) So it gets to stay until it proves itself untrustworthy.
While the bed is doing pretty okay on the weed front--lots of mulch and dense plantings help--there's two small patches in the bed that are sprouting a bizillion little seedlings. I strongly suspect it's the millet from the birdfeeder sprouting, but it could just be a generic weed invasion. I'm waiting until they get big enough to actually get a grip on the little bastards--at the moment, I'd have to weed with tweezers!--and then I'll rip them out.
I may leave one or two just to see what it IS, though...
*I wasn't going to work on that hillside this year. I wasn't. But...well...look, the plant was called "Rattlesnake Master." I cannot be expected to resist that! And I had to put in a cup plant. According to the nice people at Niche, in addition to being an awesome wildlife plant, it's a serious soil buster, and should be able to tackle even my grim clay hillside and break it into something approaching usability.