Bringing Nature Back
Tina Cooper, Caterpillar Award 2019 recipient (of the Hamilton Monarch Awards).
Tina has been gardening for twenty-five years. Previously, she lived in the country on an acre of land, converting grass to flower beds. She moved ten years ago to Ancaster. Her current property backs onto a ravine where she enjoys watching the wildlife this setting attracts.
“It’s an oasis,” Tina describes her garden. “It gives us so much pleasure to sit there; at any moment, you’re not sure what you’re going to see.”
Tina has been busy improving the soil with compost and replacing plant material “with things that have more value for nature.” She has been creating areas that benefit nature, piling up wood, providing bird nesting spaces as well as water-baths for birds to drink from.
“In the last few years, I’ve come to learn more from associating with native plants,” Tina says. Some of her favourites include Beardtongue, Anemones, Bee Balm and Turtlehead.
She buys many of her plants from Ontario Native Plants and plans to get more from here, this growing season to plant in the front yard.
Kate Geroux has earned her Monarch Award 2019, having graduated up from the Caterpillar Award she received a few years ago: “that was a baby garden with donated plants.”
New to the Stoney Creek neighbourhood, Kate says, at the time, she had just heard about the awards and was getting to know the soil of her garden.
“It was a blank slate, there was nothing there,” she recalls, “rocks, rubble, not even any grass.”
The soil being mostly gravel and clay, Kate’s work was largely about improving it; applying peat moss and compost from the school she works at, as well as bringing in Red Wiggler worms to help break things down and applying topsoil. A slope garden, Kate was concerned about plants getting washed away with the rain. Her solution was to create a walking path with rocks from the beach and drainage with pebble stones.
Michael Albanese, Caterpillar Awards 2019, Recipient. The Caterpillar Awards of the Hamilton Monarch Awards recognize the efforts of beginner gardeners, people making small gardens or “first try” gardens, regardless of the property size and
people with small “postage stamp” properties.
Michael Albanese’s garden is a rain garden, which is fitting since he is President of Avesi Stormwater and Landscape Solutions, where he helps people integrate rainwater into their landscapes.
By using his front yard to showcase a rain garden, Michael hopes to raise awareness around rainwater management and see more rain gardens in the community. His involvement with rain gardens dates back to 2008 during his undergraduate education in Earth Systems Science at the University of Waterloo: “That is where I was introduced to the concept of stormwater management and how it impacts our freshwater resources.” As Michael points out residential sites are critical to watershed health: “I saw a real opportunity to help people use their landscapes for good – being a steward for the environment starts at home, it doesn’t have to be the responsibility of cities.”
Addicted to Gardening for Nature
Kevin Wydysz is a 2019 recipient of the Caterpillar Awards, a program of the Hamilton Monarch Awards.
He tells us that it was a cousin of his who works with the Hamilton Conservation Authority that got him started on planting for nature. Together, they dug out his front lawn by hand. As well, we were thrilled to learn that our Pollinator Paradise garden at York Boulevard Parkette contributed to motivating Kevin: “It looked amazing, it really inspired me to get going.”