2019 Monarch Award Recipients

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From the 33 Monarch Award applications we received this year, field judges visited 14 gardens and, after careful review, have named the 2019 award recipients. Under the new non-competitive format, the challenge was not to rank the “best” gardens and decide on a winner. Instead, gardens were evaluated in light of the award criteria to see which ones met our standard of excellence. Congratulations to Hamilton’s 2019 Monarch Award gardeners:

Melissa Creasey (Sherman neighbourhood in Hamilton)
Kate Geroux (Albion Falls neighbourhood in Stoney Creek)
James Honey and Alex Stewart (Gibson & Landsdown neighbourhood in Hamilton)
Janet Mackey (Yorkshire Heights neighbourhood in Dundas)
Ann Martin (Downtown Core neighbourhood in Waterdown)

These were exceptional examples of beautiful, ecologically functional gardens created by gardeners with a keen understanding of what it means to be nature-friendly. All five gardeners were doing the right things in the context of the six award criteria: soil, plants, water, materials/hardscape, cultural practices, and aesthetics. 

Over the next few months, Monarch Award gardeners will be profiled and interviewed for the blog at Pollinators Paradise Project. As well, there’s a new email newsletter for supporters, applicants, and winners (from all years). Sign up on the Monarch Awards web site: http://monarchawardshamilton.org/newsletter-sign-up/ .

2019 Caterpillar Award Recipients

Caterpillar Awards are for novice gardeners, new gardens, and gardens in tiny spaces. The Caterpillar recipients this year showed terrific dedication, ingenuity, and much promise for next year. This year there are seven recipients:

Michael Albanese
Deborah Boyd
Laurie Brady
Tina Cooper
Lucy Dubeckyj
Lorraine Moss
Kevin Wydysz

Caterpillar recipients ranged from experienced landscapers to families with young children, to single adults nurturing their new love of gardening. Field reviewer Charlie Briggs had complimentary words for all the Caterpillar-level recipients. “We saw amazing things being done on sites with terrible compacted clay, beginner gardeners nudged into action by concern for pollinator decline, tenants who had totally transformed their rented properties, full-scale rain gardens incorporated into a lawn-free front yard, and tiny new gardens cut out of traditional suburban front lawns,” he said. “In some cases, the effort and dedication need the addition of time and expertise. In others, the gardens clearly will be Monarch-ready in a year.”

Sheila O’Neal, a new member of the field review team, had encouraging words for those applicants who are transforming their traditional gardens but are not quite far enough along the path. “If we could give only one piece of advice it would be to add more native plants. We are looking for dense, diverse plantings, minimal lawn, no invasives, and mostly native species,” she said.

Award recipients will be recognized at a meeting of Hamilton City Council on Wednesday, October 9 at 4:45 p.m. Mayor Fred Eisenberger will present Monarch Award recipients with a colourful metal plaque that can be displayed in the garden or on a wall. Caterpillar-level gardeners will receive a certificate. 

The organizers would like to thank all the entrants for taking the time to photograph and write about their gardens. “We are so glad to be able to recognize not only their hard work but also their knowledge, vision, and the courage to invite nature into their lives and neighbourhood,” said Jen Baker of the Hamilton Naturalists Club (HNC). HNC is a key sponsor of the Monarch Awards.

Gardener profiles and garden photos will be posted on the blogs at Pollinator Paradise Project (https://www.hamiltonpollinatorparadise.org/blog) and the Monarch Awards (http://monarchawardshamilton.org/blog/).