Congratulations to the 2022 recipients of Hamilton’s Monarch Awards garden recognition program. Out of 24 applicants, six will receive a full Monarch Award and eleven will receive a Caterpillar level award.
The Monarch-level award goes to gardeners who have met the criteria in most areas and are progressing well in all areas. These six gardens—twice the number from last year—are exceptional examples of gardening dedication, knowledge, enthusiasm and skill:
The Caterpillar-level award is for gardeners who show exceptional progress in a small or difficult site, as well as for beginner gardeners to recognize a good start on a garden that is not yet ready for a full Monarch Award. All are encouraged to re-apply as their gardens mature, expand, and improve. Here are the 2022 award recipients in the Caterpillar category:
Awards will be presented individually, on Thursday September 29 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Dundurn Park, just west of Dundurn Castle.
Since 2016, Monarch Awards have recognized Hamilton gardeners who put nature first by creating habitat with native plants and other wildlife supports, managing rainwater and maximizing infiltration, respecting the soil and the life it supports, and using no pesticides or herbicides. Monarch Award gardens are inpiring, beautiful, and ecologically functional. The volunteer-run program is supported by the Hamilton Naturalists Club, Environment Hamilton, and the Royal Botanical Gardens.
A gardener’s journey to a Monarch Award starts with an online application that includes a questionnaire and photos of the applicant’s garden. Gardens that appear to meet the criteria are visited by volunteer reviewers. Informal and conversational, these visits are a good opportunity for gardeners to get feedback on their work and make changes that will get them to the Monarch level.
This year’s field reviewers were pleased and, in some cases, awed by the quality of the gardens. “We saw amazing achievements in both large and small gardens” said Bev Wagar, a veteran field judge. “Some of the gardens are so far beyond the ‘pollinator patch’ in terms of ecological function—I hope we can give them the recognition and praise they deserve.”
Michael Albanese, the team’s water and rain garden specialist, offers an insightful metaphor on the ‘spirit’ of the awards program: “Monarch gardening is not the highway and it’s not the car. It’s the guard rails and the road signs giving us clues and insights on where to go and how to get there.”
For more information and to view the award criteria and scoring rubric, please visit www.monarchawardshamilton.org