Friday, May 26, 2017

A bright spot on a busy street: A garden that's aiming for the Monarch Award 2017

“People seem more interested in people,” says Margaret Juraj, west Hamilton resident, and gardener. But she, herself appreciates the non-human creatures; “they loom large in my imagination and consciousness.”

Gardening is a way she immerses herself in this world: “Anytime you spend time in your garden, you realize it’s not only about people,” Margaret says. “We humans are temporary and maybe we will last longer if we embrace that; if we really cared about people we would take care of the non-humans.”

This spring, Margaret is entering her pollinator-friendly garden to the Monarch Awards 2017. This is an award that celebrates gardens that nature loves. Monarch Awards recognize gardens and gardeners in Hamilton, Ontario for their contribution to biodiversity, pollinator health and environmental stewardship.

Started in 2016 by volunteer at Crown Point Gardening Club and staff at the Pollinator Paradise Project and the Royal Botanical Gardens, the awards invite submissions from wards 1-10 and 13. Margaret applied last year and was a runner up for the award.

‘It’s nice that people have organized an award that creates awareness of alternative forms of gardening, which I prefer,” Margaret says. “It’s less sterile, has value, and things can live in your garden.”

Margaret’s garden is a spot of brilliance on very busy Main Street. She has been working on it since 2001. When she moved in, it was sparse with very little to look at, but over time, as she became interested in native species, she has increased the habitat in her spot of earth, replacing things that only serve as eye-candy to pollinators, but not actual food; “People give you things that are easy to grow, but do not serve the interest of pollinators,” Margaret says.

Margaret recognizes that there is still a lot of work to do and challenges to tackle. For example, next year, she has plans to remove the periwinkle, which is an invasive groundcover. There is also the struggle with soil that contains lead, a shady backyard (that is now receiving more sun since the neighbours removed a tree) and water concerns, since the summers are hot and she has had to water more than she would like to retain moisture. “I am always thinking of new ways to harvest the rain,” Margaret says.

Margaret is having a positive influence on her neighbours, thanks to the copycat effect that is very good if we are hoping to increase habitat across the city: “There was nothing there and now some neighbours have decided to plant wildflowers too!”

For more information on how you can enter your garden to the Monarch Awards, please visit
http://monarchawardshamilton.org/ Deadline is June 18th.