Congratulations to the 2021 recipients of Hamilton’s Monarch Awards garden recognition program. Out of 26 applicants, three will receive a full Monarch Award and ten 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. Recipients’ knowledge, dedication, and enthusiasm are evident in their thriving gardens. Here are the 2021 Monarch Award recipients:
Sue and Gord Taylor
Clair and Jeff Wiersma
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 2021 award recipients in the Caterpillar category:
Again this year, due to COVID 19 restrictions, the award presentation and group photo cannot happen at City Hall. Awards will be presented individually, on Tuesday September 28 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Dundurn Park, just west of Dundurn Castle. (Update: photos of award recipients taken at Dundurn Park are posted below.)
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 email application that includes photos and a description of their garden. If the garden appears to meet the criteria, it receives a visit by a team of two reviewers. Informal and conversational, these visits are a good opportunity for gardeners to get feedback on their work. “It’s wonderful that we’re able to have judges visit” says Jen Baker of the Hamilton Naturalists Club. “Their suggestions help gardeners make the kinds of changes that will help them reach the Monarch Award level.”
This year’s field reviewers had many positive comments. First-year team member Janet Mackey noted “the passion and enthusiasm that all the gardeners had on this journey as they transition from more traditional landscapes to ones that put ecology first. Some gardens included not only important ecological features but also play spaces, unique creative touches, and areas for food production.”
Team veteran Erin Mallon was pleased to see gardeners “not only incorporating native plants into their yards but also understanding the roles the plants play in their garden ecosystems. Plants are being chosen for their function and not just for shape and colour. Gardeners are researching and planning to maximize pollinator habitat in the short term while also having a vision for how the garden will adapt long term.”
For more information and to view the award criteria and scoring rubric, please visit www.monarchawardshamilton.org