The judges have made a decision– the Monarch Award winner and runners-up will be announced today (Monday July 11) with a media release. This post is an update that will be of interest to entrants and enthusiasts interested in the program details.
The media announcement will include the names of the overall winner and two runners-up, according to the judges’ decision. The organizers would like to highlight the “top ten”. Listed alphabetically in the sidebar, these were the best of the 49 entries received, based on photos and questionnaires. Congratulations to all the keen gardeners doing so much to respect the environment and create habitat–and beauty–in their yards.
We’re thrilled at having come so close to our goal of 50 gardens in this first year. So many entries arrived during the final week! As participation increases so too does the habitat, as people expand and improve their gardens, learn more about native plants, and gain understanding of their importance to insect populations that are currently in decline. This truly makes a difference not only for the pollinators but also to our neighbourhoods.
But it’s not just about plants. The judges noted some seriously dedicated approaches to water conservation with rain gardens and rain barrel systems. Disconnecting gutter downspouts from stormwater pipes is the starting point. Allowing rainfall from roof runoff reach the soil and percolate through not only keeps the soil fauna alive and healthy but it also keeps this water out of the managed city infrastructure which, when overburdened in storms, pollutes the lake and streams.
Judges also looked for gardens that kept leaves and plant residue in the garden, whether to rot in a compost bin, lie as mulch, or break down in the soil. The recycling of organic matter is how Nature creates healthy soil that retains moisture, teems with microbes, and resists erosion.
The stories and anecdotes in the applications were a joy to read. The love of gardening is strong and so was the desire to share the joy. Especially touching were entries submitted by the children of elderly or deceased gardeners. These legacy gardens were cherished and the “new” caretakers were eager to learn and keep the gardens going.
There were several inquiries about non-residential gardens. The organizers considered the possibility of opening up the contest to include school, community, corporate or community gardens. It was decided that it would be too difficult to create an even playing field for such diverse types of gardens. So next year will again be residential gardens only.
We’re keenly aware that the online questionnaire, and especially the photo upload system, need improvement. With the luxury of lead time and armed with our experience this year, we will be investing in robust software with a database and a better user interface. There will still be file size limits for uploads but we’ll be working with our hosting service to make it easier.
There’s plenty of summer left. So plan to apply next year, tell your friends, and stay the course during this drought. In the spring of 2017 (dare we think of cold weather?) there will be an educational event so everyone can share ideas, tips, and dispel myths about naturalized gardens.
All entrants will receive a “We’re Feeding Pollinators” lawn sign. These are being delivered by volunteers and that’s a lot of cycling and driving, so your patience is appreciated. Everything will be delivered by the end of July.
Several gardeners expressed an interest in connecting with other entrants. We are looking into setting up a forum on this web site to facilitate the sharing of information, native plants, and seeds. Stay tuned! The easiest way is to “follow” this blog.
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