Thursday, October 5, 2017

Planting Paradise, Growing the Corridor: Corporations Get on Board

Planting Paradise at Terrapure
Building Hamilton's Pollinator Corridor requires all hands on shovels. We need the participation of people from across the diverse sectors of the community. That's why we are thrilled to put two local corporate partners on the map: Terrapure Environmental and the Hamilton Port Authority have joined us in planting critically needed habitat on their properties.

The last few days, we've been digging in the dirt together and planting native plant species in anticipation of drawing pollinators to these sites.

The largest pollinator "patch" within our corridor, Terrapure is transforming a closed landfill into a paradise by planting three acres of  habitat at the Heritage Green Passive Park in upper Stoney Creek.
 “We saw this initiative as a wonderful opportunity to provide much-need pollinator habitat and educate the public about the importance of pollinators to our eco-system," said Michael Jovanovic, VP of Environmental Affairs at Terrapure. "We hope our actions will encourage residents and businesses to consider starting their own pollinator paradise at home or work."

Planting paradise, Terrapure.
Last Saturday, local volunteers from across Hamilton helped plant four unique wildflower gardens on the property that will provide pollinator habitats to feed specific pollinator species. Each demonstration garden will have an interpretative sign explaining the species of plants and the importance of various pollinators to our local eco-system.

Residents were given the opportunity to purchase similar native plants for their home gardens at a native plant sale featuring local growers. Everyone in attendance also took home a package of free pollinator wildflower seeds.

Lynda Lukasik, Executive Director Environment Hamilton, says "It is fantastic to see such a large area of a closed landfill site being transformed into productive pollinator habitat. I'm hopeful Terrapure's initiative will inspire other private sector players to consider how they might do the same!”

Jen Baker, Land Trust Manager with the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, said “Many Hamilton residents have been planting native wildflowers in their private yards, schools and places of worship. Terrapure’s Pollinator Paradise will be our largest habitat to date and extends Hamilton’s Pollinator Corridor into upper Stoney Creek.”
The new project can also serve as a pollinator corridor between Felker’s Conservation Area and the new East Mountain Conservation Area.

Check out the coverage 

Pier 15: Hamilton Port Authority

Port Authority: Pier 15
While Terrapure invites the neighbourhood, the local school and the broader public to join in planting habitat and help with maintaining the site, the Hamilton Port Authority is planting paradise within the seclusion of its gates. 

Last week, staff from the Pollinator Paradise Project assisted Port Authority staff in getting plants into the soil. 

"We had a great experience with the Pollinators Paradise Project, and appreciated the team’s expertise and guidance along the way," says Sharon Clark, Manager, Community Relations.

There are plans to expand the pollinator garden beyond the current site. 

"This garden is the first pollinator garden at the Port of Hamilton,' Sharon says. "We are now scoping out more spaces where the port lands can contribute to a pollinator corridor in Hamilton."

Sharon describes the planting as serving as an educational opportunity for their staff, as well as "a demonstration site to encourage some of our tenant partners to come on board."

With the desire to strengthen connection with community, the Port Authority opened its doors to the public twice in the past week for a tour of Pier 15 site. 

We understand that going forward, there will more opportunities made available for more tours open to the public. 
They're feeding pollinators!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monarch Awards 2017 Winner: Amy Taylor's Garden of Delights.

Garden of Delights
Hamilton Monarch Awards 2017 winner, Amy Taylor has been gardening for more than half of her life. The 48 year old didn’t initially start of gardening for nature, however. What’s more, in the beginning, she gardened in pots because she didn’t have an actual garden space. As a tea leaf reader, tea enthusiast and community herbalist, Amy’s interest was initially in growing medicinal herbs, rather than for habitat or even growing food. That’s when she noticed that growing medicinal herbs correlated with growing for nature. Many Ontario native plants are also medicinal plants, like Echinacea, Bloodroot, Coltsfoot, Wild Ginger, to name just a few.

When Amy and her husband Mick moved to Hamilton from Toronto ten years ago, they counted over 140 plants that they brought over with them. “When we bought our home, we knew it was up to us to be as environmentally sustainable as we could with it and the garden," Amy says. "With Hamilton having the unfortunate reputation of being dirty and polluted, we knew better as we saw the amazing green-spaces and natural habitats for wildlife." It was partly because of the escarpment and the Greenbelt around the city that made them buy in Hamilton, Amy shares, "but it was also that we recognized that we are ultimately responsible for this planet." With that realization, they sought to make their small, 100x20 foot lot of it be as environmentally viable as possible: "We joined Bullfrog Power, we installed a composter, we recycle nearly everything and we planted those first 140 plants with a vision of a better planet."

Amy talks with captivating passion about the flowers in her garden, including the likes of bloodroot, coltsfoot, buddleia (butterfly bush, which she diligently deadheads), the red flowering crab apple tree, the milkweed, goldenrod, echinacea, obedient plant which starts of stark white, then goes purple, and yellow jewelweed that grows 8 ft tall, and hides her neighbour's garage.

What’s her favourite plant? “Probably my most favourite in the garden is the Cercis canadensis, Eastern Redbud tree,” Amy responds. “My Mum and I bought this tree together. I loved it because it has heart shaped leaves, beautiful purple pink pea shaped flowers in spring and pea shaped seed pods and lovely yellow leaves in fall. We bought it because she and I are like two peas in a pod.”

Friday, September 15, 2017

Mayor to present Monarch Awards

For Immediate Release
September 15th, 2017

Hamilton, Ont--Mayor Eisenberger to present Hamilton Monarch Awards (“for gardens that nature loves, by gardeners who love nature”) to 2017 Winners.
Amy Taylor, Winner of the Monarch Awards 2017 
Mayor Fred Eisenberger will be honouring the winners of the 2017 Hamilton Monarch Awards at a ceremony in the Mayor's chambers, (City Hall), to take place on Tuesday, September 19th at 1 pm.

Now in its second year, the Monarch Awards “for gardens that nature loves, by gardeners who love nature” was created out of concern for declining insect populations, especially Monarch butterflies and bees. The award celebrates gardens and gardeners in Hamilton for their contribution to a biodiverse, sustainable environment.

“In creating the award, we wanted to recognize people who plant habitat in their yards for pollinator species and wildlife in general," says Bev Wagar, one of the creators for this initiative. "The goal is to promote the validity of gardens that are created to be ecologically functional but may fall under a non-traditional aesthetic."

Crown Point resident and last year’s finalist, Amy Taylor, is the 2017 Monarch Awards  competition winner. Finalists include Nadia Coakley, West Hamilton; Kelly Jamieson, Crown Point; Matthew Mills, Dundas; and Katie West, Dundas.

The organizing committee for the award includes staff from the Pollinator Paradise Project (Environment Hamilton and Hamilton Naturalists' Club) along with volunteers from the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Crown Point Garden Club, as well as individual supporters who did much of the legwork. This “alternative” garden awards program had over 50 entrants this year.

"Once again, we are thrilled by the number of applications submitted in our second year, and seeing the incredible gardens across the city" says Jen Baker, Coordinator for the Pollinator Paradise Project. "The interest is there. It just keeps growing."
A volunteer committee evaluated the applications and chose the “Buzzin’ Dozen” semi-finalists, from which seven gardens were chosen for a visit by the judging team.

The five winners will each receive a beautiful hand-crafted wooden plaque by local woodworker Trisha Fraser. All entrants will receive a “We’re Feeding Pollinators” sign, a Monarch Awards sticker, and special early-bird shopping at the upcoming native plant sale hosted by the Hamilton Naturalists Club.

For profiles of the winning gardens, visit

For media inquiries, please contact:
Bev Wagar, Crown Point Garden Club

Jen Baker, Coordinator, Pollinator Paradise Project
905 549 0900

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Roadside Revegetation with Native Plants: An Interview with Stefan Weber

Article by summer intern, Saige Patti.

Thousands of kilometers of highway in Ontario are lined with non-native legumes, which are ecologically useless for pollinators, and have shallow roots that aren’t as good at filtering water or preventing erosion as are native plants.
By Haljackey at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Introduced plants like crown-vetch, black medic, white clover, and red clover have been popular choices for roadside plantings, which are aimed at preventing erosion of roadsides, but short roots and low salt tolerance make them less than ideal for roadside vegetation. A native tallgrass prairie community may be the best option for roadside plantings.

Roadside revegetation with native plants 

Roadside revegetation with native plants is being studied by Stefan Weber, a PhD student in the Biology department at McMaster University. In 2016 the Ontario Ministry of Transportation put out a request for proposals for their Highway Infrastructure Innovation Program Fund to study the best practices for establishing native roadside vegetation. Now, Weber’s project has two sites on highway number 3 outside of Tillsonburg and Norfolk county, and two sites in Saint Mary’s on highway 7.

Weber says the primary step to restoring habitat is preparing the site adequately. It can take two years to get rid of most of the invasive and noxious weeds, and even then the weeds and invasive species can persist. “I love the phrase ‘undressing a salad’,” he says, “It’s impossible to undress a salad. If you want to undo changes that have been made to the biotic community, it might not be possible; so many things have happened in terms of changes to soil structure and soil chemistry. It may not actually be possible to revert some roadsides back to the native landscape.”

blue vervain
It can be extremely difficult to remove non-native seeds from the soil seed bank, and multiple methods can be used. One method includes repeated herbicide spraying and tilling, but excavating can usually be more effective. Completely removing the first foot of soil down to the subsoil can remove the seed bank and nitrified soil. Native plants are tolerant of low-nutrient environments, so eliminating nitrogen from the soil will mainly affect non-native weeds. Prairie plants are adapted to colonize mineral soils; areas with sand, alvar, or exposed rock and gravel. This is because these prairies are early-successional communities – they are made of plants that are the first to appear when plants colonize an area. If the community was left undisturbed it would eventually be succeeded by ‘late successional’ communities like forests.

Weber says that we can keep our tallgrass prairies around by keeping these communities in an early state. This can be done by managing them with grazing or mowing. Historically, these prairies were maintained with fire by First Nations people. In a roadside setting, mowing is an essential activity for keeping prairie plants thriving. It helps eliminate competition from fast growing weeds which can shade these prairie species out.
“A successful project requires choosing species that are most appropriate for the physical characteristics of the restoration area,” says Weber. “The goal is to build what we want to see into the future, not recreate some historical scene that doesn’t exist anymore. We can’t travel back in time, so that’s not really the point.”