Published August, 2017
Check out this beautiful piece by Monarch Awards' entrant, Calla Shea-Pelletier.
Chance is one important component in our garden. The beauty of it, entirely the collaboration of pollinators and humans. The placement and shape of a deck last year builds upon years of cultivating a theme of sanctuary. The gothic boat deck is suggestive of a human conveyance slowly moving through. It is an echo of the windows of the porch and the shape of the gardens. A subtle emphasis of the gothic theme, found in the choice of (almost) black and white plants, both native and non-native, punctuated with feature colours.
The lawn has been entirely replaced over the years, with the intention of cultivating pollinator gardens, pathways and rest stops. Each year more opportunity for imaginative interactions unfold. The beauty we aspire to, embrace whimsy, multiple histories, and locations for foraging or refuge.
There is an abundance of inhospitable urban environments out there. If beauty is also compassion, our efforts bring together communities of plants, creatures and human built environments for gentle collisions to contemplate the pollinator universe.
Poem inspired by a seven year old, who volunteered this information:
“I want to be a pollinator,
I will carry small brushes with me”
she said making the motions
of pollinating with tiny instruments.
In the moment I understand,
she is compassion itself,
“I hope you won’t have to live in a world
where such a job is necessary”, I say
fearing that she already did.
June 24th, 2017, Calla Shea-Pelletier
Published August, 2017.
Winners have just been announced. There's a profile article on the Monarch Awards web site as well as the media release. Congratulations to all the finalists, the Buzzin' Dozen, and all the entrants!
The 2017 Monarch Award winner is Amy Taylor!!
Amy, a 2016 finalist who lives on Edgemont Street North in Crown Point, is a herbalist and tea-reader who has an eclectic and broad knowledge of plants. An experienced gardener, Amy made some changes to her garden over the past year, removing some most of the aggressive non-natives (despite their herbalism usefulness) and ramping up the native plant content. Amy’s garden showcases the potential for blending unusual native plants into a traditional—and small—garden setting.
One judge remarked on the overwhelming “interestingness” of the space. There’s a huge diversity of species to guarantee blooms right from April through November, along with personal whimsical decor, several amenities for wildlife (bird baths, bug bath, bee boxes, nesting spots), a shed made entirely of recycled materials, and a pergola with natural shade provided by hop vines that are harvested for beer making.
There is always a “mess” potential in gardens designed with ecosystem benefits in mind but Amy has cleverly and discretely sited the composters, brush piles, and all three water barrels. The front yard is completely planted and, although the needs of the plants have trumped the aesthetics somewhat, the effect is respectful of the streetscape and neighbours.
This year the judges chose to award four finalist prizes.
Posted Nov, 2016
What makes a pollinator-friendly garden acceptable? That is, what will keep the bylaw officer away and the neighbours happy?
Recently, people have emailed us to say that their gardens are drawing unwanted attention--the grass is too long, there are weeds. One lady says that an order was left by a by-law officer claiming that under the By-law Section 3(1)(a)(c)(i) she had to remove all long grass and weeds from the entire property and maintain to a maximum height not to exceed 21 cm (8 1/4 inches). The bylaw officer wrote that this should include the entire property, "Front, rear and side of the property."
As far as this local Dundas resident is concerned, her garden is flowers and grasses, but there were a few weeds that might have been on the bad weed list and she removed them. Apparently, the officer even took issue with Goldenrod!
We chatted with Tamara Reid, Supervisor for Municipal Law Enforcement at the City of Hamilton.
How do we make naturalized, pollinator-friendly gardens fit into a neighbourhood? That is, according to by-law, what constitutes a native plant/natural garden and what is just a garden that has been let go, of which the neighbours are justifiably upset about?
Demonstrating intention is key. "It is helpful to have even a hand-drawn image of what you are aiming for--what your garden is intended to look like," says Tamara. "You can show that to a by-law officer and that helps."
Tamara suggests having some visual demarcations like logs or rocks, different heights of grasses or plants just helps guide the eye and looks more like a planned garden. "The idea is to have boarders, again so the garden looks planned."
We contacted the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Agricultural Information Contact Centre. We were told that in fact, the Weed Control Act is in place to protect agricultural and horticultural operations from weeds. It does not apply to noxious weeds or weed seeds that are far enough away from any land used for agricultural or horticultural purposes so it wouldn’t apply in an urban area like the City of Hamilton. "It would be bylaws that need to change if bylaw officers are asking residents to remove goldenrod," the correspondent said.
We were also told that in 2015, nine weed species were removed from the noxious weed schedule of the Weed Control Act. Some of these species are considered a food source for pollinators, such as bees (e.g., wild carrot, goat's-beard, scotch thistle, nodding thistle, yellow rocket, and tuberous vetchling). These and other species that are being removed are no longer considered significant threats to agricultural or horticultural production and can be managed through modern management practices.
Goldenrod is not on the noxious weed list but can be a weed if it gets into cultivated fields and that is why we see it in the Ontario weeds gallery.
Now it's time to think about what action we can do as a community to change the bylaw and make it easier for people to plant native gardens!
Signs like our "We're Feeding Pollinators" do wonders. Many residents have told us that putting up our sign as part of our certification program has really helped in deterring complaints from neighbours who don't get it.
Published March, 2015
“There is so much we can do to bolster the bio-diversity of our cities and towns,” Paul O’Hara of Blue Oak Native Landscapes told a well-filled room of community members last Saturday, at the Church of the Nazarene (Ottawa Street).
Building a connected network of pollinator friendly habitat is one such way. O'Hara's workshop offered participants ideas and tips on planting and maintaining a pollinator garden at home: from elements of design, structure to what to grow where, O'Hara covered the basics in under two hours.
O’Hara impressed the room by his expertise, artful garden designs and reach of his work -- including an extensive corporate naturalization/meadow project in Mississauga.
Published on April, 2017.
So you missed the workshop on creating your Monarch award-winning garden (for gardens nature loves, by gardeners who love nature?). No problem, we've got you covered. Here's what happened.
After an introduction about what we're looking for in a Monarch award-winning garden, Charlie Briggs, gardener at RBG went on to advice about the importance of a healthy soil and what that looks like.
"It's the start of a whole system," Charlie explained, "and it should provides the necessities for plants and animals to live. As well, it should allow water penetration for proper water table recycling."
For these, you'll be checking out the following: Texture, pH (potential of Hydrogen), nutrient content, and water retention and drainage.
With soil texture, you have to decide what type you have, that is, sand, silt or clay. Note that the soil texture could differ by depth of soil and also by location in the garden. For the pH, you can use a soil test kit. For more information, Charlies suggests doing a of “OMAFRA Soil Testing Laboratories.”
Having to amend soil can be a big hassle, but if needed, Charlie recommends that you can do so with organic matter. You can start your own compost, or purchase or receive compost/organic matter from trusted sources (e.g. City of Hamilton). Equally important is to mulch your garden with leaf and other plant litter. This will break down into a fine organic layer as well as provide other benefits to your garden.Charlie advises that you add organic matter by tilling into a large area or garden, not by amending single holes for trees or shrubs! Be sure to select plants for your soil type, and choose the right plant for the right place! Carolinian Canada has a selection of plants for almost every soil type.
We'll be looking for those gardens that provides for our native plants and animals, and allows as much rainwater to fulfill its cycle on site. The garden can have different types of soil showcasing proper plant selection.