Gardening goes on! The non-competitive format started in 2019 will continue. We will still be looking not for “the best” gardens but rather for all the really good ones, created by gardeners who are consciously and knowledgeably creating places where nature can thrive. The Monarch Awards is a standard of excellence, so if you’ve entered in previous years, please do enter again and show how your nature-friendly garden has improved and matured.


to raise awareness of the importance of bio-diversity and the inter-connected web of life in healthy gardens
to increase the amount and quality of habitat and sustenance for birds, pollinators, beneficial insects, and wildlife of all kinds
to improve the sustainability of gardens via: healthy ecology; wise water use and conservation
to challenge the dominant vision-centered aesthetic in garden design with one that acknowledges scent, sound, and touch
to promote creativity and personal expression in garden design, free of the constraints of conventional, human-centered aesthetic “rules”
to promote the social value of sustainable gardens as points of collective awareness, neighbourhood cohesion, and community resiliency in the face of climate change.

The six categories (soil, water, plants, materials/hardscaping, cultural practices, and aesthetics) remain the same for 2021 and judges will be looking for achievements in each of these areas.
Our judges truly enjoy the garden visits. They get to experience so many different styles and approaches. They value the opportunity to give feedback, encouragement, and suggestions, helping entrants reach the Monarch Award level.
We no longer rank finalists and semi-finalists—just award winners and (we hope) future award winners. Each year there may be a dozen recipients or only a few. The bar will be high, but not too high!

History of the Monarch Awards
The first awards year was 2016. Originating with a group of gardeners , the idea for an “alternative” garden awards program quickly gained momentum. The organizing committee includes staff from the Hamilton Naturalists Club, Environment Hamilton, along with volunteers from the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Crown Point Garden Club, as well as individuals.
Who Can Apply
All residential properties in Hamilton are eligible. Gardens must be residential, not on business or commercial properties. Applicants do not need to own the property but do need to be primary person responsible for how the gardens look and function. Gardens can be part of condominium and apartment building grounds.
How to Apply
For details on how to apply, visit the How to Enter page.
The entry process remains the same: a single descriptive essay. Of course it’s not a formal essay–grammar, spelling and format are not important. Use point form if you like. Simply tell us about your garden, in as many words as you like, and send up to five photos by email.
The judging team will use the same criteria as last year– looking at soil, water, plants, materials/hardscaping, cultural practices, and aesthetics. Entrants are strongly encouraged to cover all these areas when describing their gardens.
Applicants who do not have email may submit hand-written or typed entries and deliver them to the Environment Hamilton office in person or by Canada Post, along with paper photos.
After You Apply
After the entry deadline, the Monarch Awards technical committee reviews all the entries and chooses the best to move forward. Then the judges look at this group and decide which ones to visit. If your property is chosen for a visit, you are encouraged to be on hand to showcase your work.
Award recipients will be chosen based on judges’ scores over the six criteria categories.
Caterpillar Awards
Special “caterpillar” recognition will look at the efforts of:

  • beginner gardeners without a lot of experience
  • people making small gardens or “first try” gardens, regardless of the property size
  • people with small “postage stamp” properties

Whether your garden is large or small, ambitious or modest, expert or neophyte– the application is the same. Simply tell us about your garden and the kind of things you’re doing to make it bio-diverse and sustainable.
If you entered in previous years, you’re encouraged to enter again. Let us know what you’ve been up to!
2021 Dates
Entry deadline is midnight Sunday on June 20, 2021. Judges’ site visits are scheduled for mid-July.

Monarch on Goldenrod. Photo: Bruce Bolin
Monarch on Goldenrod.
Photo: Bruce Bolin

Send us an email admin@monarchawardshamilton.org or use the online form on the right sidebar.