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.

Monarch on Goldenrod. Photo: Bruce Bolin

Monarch on Goldenrod.
Photo: Bruce Bolin

The Monarch Awards recognizes  gardens and gardeners in Hamilton Ontario for their contribution to a bio-diverse, sustainable environment.
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 Enter
All residential properties in Hamilton are eligible. Gardens must be residential, not on business or commercial properties. Entrants 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.
New Way to Enter
It’s very different entry process this year. In the past we tried to obtain clear, detailed, and objective information about entrants’ gardens. The goal was to fairly compare many different gardens across a variety of criteria. But technology has proven to be huge problem. We had to accommodate gardeners using phones,laptops, paper, email, and any number of operating systems, browsers, and cameras. There is simply no one-size-fits-all solution to diversity of technology and technological ability and comfort levels.

So we are abandoning the online survey in favour of a single descriptive “essay”. Gardeners are invited to simply tell us about their gardens, in as many words as they 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. So entrants are encouraged to cover all these areas when describing their gardens.

Entrants who do not have email may submit hand-written or typed entries and deliver them 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 forwards the best ones to the judges. The judges decide which gardens they will visit. If your property is chosen for a visit, you are encouraged to be on hand to showcase your work and your goals.

A winner and finalists will be chosen based on judges’ scores over the six criteria categories.

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, abitious 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 2016 or 2017, you’re encouraged to enter again. Let us know what you’ve been up to!

2018 Dates

Entry deadline is midnight Sunday on June 24, 2018.
The selection of finalists happens between June 24 and July 8.
Judges’ site visits are scheduled for mid-July.