See you in 2024

The Hamilton Monarch Awards are going biennial! This means that we will be taking a break for 2023 and returning for the summer of 2024. Here’s why…

All the Monarch Awards volunteers really enjoy connecting with and expanding the ecologically minded gardening community here in Hamilton. However, listening to feedback and looking at recent applications, we’ve noticed that holding the site visits and awards year after year does not give gardeners and their gardens enough time to reach their full potential. Holding visits every second year will give these gardens and gardeners extra time to evolve. Many Caterpillar Award recipients work hard to “graduate” to a full Monarch Award—but it usually takes a few years to make enough changes to meet the Monarch criteria. By moving to every two years, we hope to not only recognize more novice gardeners but also see more of those caterpillars transform into monarchs!

As well, Hamilton’s Biodiversity Action Plan will be finalized by the end of 2023. Being backed up with solid public policy will be a huge advantage for the Monarch Awards in 2024. With a mandate to increase biodiversity, Hamilton will be committed to supporting ecologically functional, biodiverse, nature-friendly gardens. It’s what the Monarch Awards have been doing for the past seven years! Public consultation on the Biodiversity Action Plan happens in May and June 2023. All Monarch award applicants are encouraged to read and share your thoughts on the draft document. Stay tuned to https://www.hamilton.ca/city-council/plans-strategies/strategies/biodiversity-action-plan for details.

About the awards

The six categories (soil, water, plants, materials/hardscaping, cultural practices, and aesthetics) remain the same for 2023 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 is high, but not too high!


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 (in 2024)

For details on how to apply, visit the How to Apply page.
There’s an application questionnaire to help us understand what’s happening in your garden and to level the playing field for all applicants.
The judging team will use the same criteria as last year– looking at soil, water, plants, materials/hardscaping, cultural practices, and aesthetics.

After you apply

After the entry deadline, the Monarch Awards technical committee reviews all the entries and decides which ones appear to meet the criteria. Then we take a close look at this group and decide which gardens 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 level

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.
If you entered in previous years, you’re encouraged to enter again. Let us know what you’ve been up to!

2024 Dates

Application deadline is midnight on Thursday June 20, 2024 (summer solstice). 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.