Nadia Coakley has been gardening for nature since she and her partner moved into their home at the edge of West Hamilton, in 2008. She began by turning their lawn to clover. 'I've always liked clover. Mark kept cutting the lawn and I saw this as a low maintenance opportunity. I thought it was beautiful."
Nadia says she imagined something different from the flowers that grew in her parents home, "something other than geraniums and impatients. I thought I'd plant something different. With three kids, it was going to be the things that do best." Things that "do best" turned out to be native species, "so it wasn't intentional," although she admits that she still has hostas.
Nadia and Mark got an oak tree when they got married. The second tree they planted was a birch tree. Both these trees support an incredible number of species. But Nadia recalls the difficulty of finding native tree species: "I didn't know where to get one. It was confusing."
Thanks to concerns about declining pollinator populations, Nadia's interest in native plants evolved. She planted milkweed for the butterflies, "and it took off from there," she says, reminding me however, that she still has a lot to learn.
I ask Nadia what's rewarding about being a Monarch Awards finalist. "Knowing that my garden is an oasis for pollinators to stop and lie some eggs," she says immediately. She says she is glad that there are these awards: "for a long time, people thought I had a crazy garden. Now gardens like mine are respected. People are having a better awareness of the issues. My mother and mother-in-law are both putting in milkweed."
Any tips for newbies? "Keep planting native flowers, soon everyone else will. That will be the norm, that will be the standard."
Nadia has three boys ages 10-17. She writes guidelines for Cancer care in Ontario.
What a rewarding experience it is to see some many good people of Hamilton come out on a Saturday afternoon (Sept 8th), to learn about how to be better at gardening for nature and support local biodiversity and connect with others in the community involved in habitat restoration. .
We partnered with the In the Zone team at Carolinian Canada , World Wild Life to host Gardening for Nature! Birds, Bees, Butterflies. This afternoon-long event featured an afternoon of "garden chats" with experts on topics that ranged from designing your garden with easy to grow native plant choices that benefit pollinators and other creatures, tips to manage invasive species, to how to nurture healthy soil and stories from the garden. Our experts included Ecologist, Charlie Briggs with RBG, Master gardener, Claudette Sims and team with Halton Master Gardeners and Brenda Van Ryswyk, Natural Heritage Ecologist at Conservation Halton. A delightful addition to the team of experts was Calla Shea-Pelletier and her son Harry's virtual pollinator-themed gallery, art installation of Hamilton biodiversity.
Joanne Tunnicliffe, Master gardener at the First Unitarian Church lead two garden tours of the grounds.