The Hamilton Monarch Awards--for gardens that nature loves, by gardeners who love nature--are back for another year and we invite you to apply.
Started in 2016 by a group of Hamilton gardeners and activists, concerned about declines in populations of pollinator species, the award celebrates people who create habitat in their yards in support of pollinators and wildlife in general. It recognizes people who create naturalized, sustainable gardens that are beautiful, functional and beneficial to nature.
Now more than ever, with the critical need for healthier nature, we want to acknowledge the validity of this non-traditional aesthetic, ecological approach. For more about the Monarch Awards and the beginners' award, The Caterpillar Awards, and what it takes to receive an award, click here.
We continue our blog post series featuring Hamilton Monarch Awards' and Caterpillar Awards' winners 2019 in the hope that you too will be inspired to apply this year. In this post, we hear from Deborah Boyd, Caterpillar Award recipient.
Deborah has been gardening for over a decade, but really “got turned on to native species plants” a few years ago, after a conversation with Cherish Gamble of the Hamilton Conservation Authority. Coinciding with her concerns at the time about declining Monarch populations, Cherish helped Deborah understand their importance for pollinator health: “That’s how I became passionate; creating habitat that supports all life,” she recalls. “It has become a spiritual experience, hands in the earth, feeding the soil and plants, the whole cycle of life.”
Deborah owns three properties in Dundas and considers her gardens something of a laboratory. “Everything is an experiment in the evolution of these gardens," she says. "I plant it here and move it to the other gardens and that’s how I populate them.”
As well as feeding pollinators, Deborah is beginning to feed herself, her family and friends and neighbours with produce from her vegetable gardens. “It’s a community-building opportunity for me. It soothes my heart and warms my soul.”
Deborah practices permaculture gardening and the idea of “multipurpose plants”--plants that feed the birds and the bees, and us! She is deeply interested in succession planning and maximizing the growing season. As such, she plans to convert her bushes to a “food hedge” of fruit and vegetables around the perimeter of the garden, as well as utilize the space “in an efficient way with foods that grow up,” such as zucchini and cucumbers. She will be starting small, “testing, getting results and expanding further.”