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.
From these new wildflower additions to the garden, Tina notes that she has gained a deeper appreciation of just how many bees there actually are, as well as different species of butterflies, and birds like the Pileated Woodpecker, and a variety of hawks.
“The other thing is, as the garden improves, it is attracting snakes, frogs, even a salamander,” Tina says. “I’ve seen more foxes coming up from the ravine. For me, it’s watching the whole ecosystem come back that is so exciting.”
Tina’s neighbours two doors away have a window that looks onto her garden: “they tell me they love seeing what’s there.” she says. “Hopefully, continuously showing that there is another way to garden might set a bit of an example for the neighbours.”