No More Competition

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That’s right. The Monarch Awards is no longer a contest– it’s a recognition program.
Last year we introduced the caterpillar category to recognize beginner gardeners and small properties. This year the Monarch Awards goes further to make the program inclusive and responsive to the work being done by ecologically conscious gardeners in Hamilton. Based on feedback from the judges as well as past entrants, we’ve decided to do more to reward and recognize gardeners who are doing things right. Instead of looking for “the best” gardens we’ll be looking for all the really good ones, made by gardeners who are consciously and knowledgeably creating places where nature can thrive. Moving away from the competition format will, we hope, encourage more gardeners to enter and continue to participate over the years as their gardens improve and mature.
No longer a contest, the Monarch Awards will become a standard of excellence. The six categories (soil, water, plants, materials/hardscaping, cultural practices, and aesthetics) remain the same and judges will be looking for achievements in each of these areas.
Entrants can look forward to more garden visits next year. The judges really enjoyed experiencing so many different styles and approaches. They valued the opportunity to give feedback, encouragement, and suggestions, helping entrants reach the Monarch Award level in subsequent years.
There will be no more ranking of 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 will be high, but not too high!
Who Can Enter
All residential properties in Hamilton are eligible. Gardens must be residential, not on business or commercial properties. Entrants 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 Enter
For details on how to enter, visit the How to Enter page.
The entry process remains the same: a single descriptive essay. Of course it’s not a formal essay–grammar, spelling and format are not important. Use point form if you like. Simply tell us about your garden, in as many words as you like, and send up to five photos by email.
The judging team will use the same criteria as last year– looking at soil, water, plants, materials/hardscaping, cultural practices, and aesthetics. Entrants are strongly encouraged to cover all these areas when describing their gardens.
Entrants who do not have email may submit hand-written or typed entries and deliver them in person or by Canada Post, along with paper photos.
After You Apply
After the entry deadline, the Monarch Awards technical committee reviews all the entries and chooses the best to move forward. Then the judges look at this group and decide which ones 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. There’s no ranking and there’s no set number of recipients.
Caterpillar Awards
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. Simply tell us about your garden and the kind of things you’re doing to make it bio-diverse and sustainable.
If you entered in previous years, you’re encouraged to enter again. Let us know what you’ve been up to!
2019 Dates
Entry deadline is midnight Sunday on June 30, 2019. Judges’ site visits are scheduled for mid-July.

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