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.