We’ve updated our Pollinator Paradise Project Map that showcases pollinator habitats across the city. Over the summer, an incredible team of student volunteers assisted our staff in creating a better, more beautiful, more interactive story map.
Since 2014, Environment Hamilton and the Hamilton Naturalists' Club have been building a Pollinator Paradise of certified gardens across the city to provide food and shelter for native pollinators. By doing this with our community, we are strengthening and enhancing Hamilton's unique biodiversity.
So what exactly qualifies a pollinator garden?
The major requirement is native wildflowers - the primary source of food for our native pollinators!It is also great to provide habitats like wood, stems, leaves, and undisturbed soil. Another resource to provide is clean water.
And these pollinator gardens come in many different shapes and sizes! From small residential gardens to large park spaces over 450 square metres, every pollinator garden helps.
For Immediate Release: September 18, 2019
Hamilton--Everyone wants to help save the pollinators, and one of the best ways to do so is by planting a native species garden. To this end, the Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project has launched the Plant Paradise Toolkit, a guide designed to help Hamiltonians create pollinator-friendly habitat.
“Whether you are planting in a very small space such as a balcony, or on a large property,
starting a garden for wild bees, butterflies, and other pollinators can seem overwhelming,” says Jen Baker, Project Manager for the Pollinator Paradise Project. “This electronic toolkit is useful for all habitat sizes and every level of expertise--from beginner to green thumb.”
Plant Paradise Toolkit is divided into two parts. The first part starts with an introduction as to why pollinators need our help (and why we need theirs: 1 in every 3 bites of food we eat depends on a pollinator!). It includes a section that explains the urgency for supporting broader biodiversity in general. The second part of the toolkit is laid out in 6 neat sections. Illustrated with beautiful images, it covers choosing a site, designing the garden, choosing the plants for the garden, preparing, planting and maintaining the garden.
“With this critical conservation issue, we can all be part of the solution; ” Baker concludes, “because every little bit helps.”
Residents will be able to get a condensed version of the toolkit by attending the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System BioBlitz weekend, September 21-22 and/or the Native Plant Sale, which will run concurrently with the BioBlitz event on September 21, and takes place at the Royal Botanical Gardens.https://www.rbg.ca/bioblitz
The Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project is an initiative of Environment Hamilton and the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club since 2014, with the goal of planting a Pollinator Paradise across the City of Hamilton.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Jen Baker,
Pollinator Paradise Project, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 905-549-0900
In reviewing the Monarch Awards' Applications for this year, 2019, we were struck by the love, care and respect for nature that the applicants showed as concerns their gardens.
In all 33 applications, there was an authentic desire to support biodiversity in the city, with thoughtful comments like, "giving the birds a place to drink," "a place for pollinators to shelter," etc. Gardeners referred to wildlife as "friends," "visitors," and "other inhabitants."
The gardens themselves were spoken about as being "peaceful," "places of enjoyment," "an oasis," "a hidden haven."
As we await the final decision from the judges, take a moment to read some of the quotes that stood out from amongst the applicants.
Published in thespec.com, June 11 2019
So you want to help save the bees? That's great, but first of all, you'll need to get to know your bees.
From a conservation perspective, it's the wild bees as opposed to managed bees that we need to be focusing on. As plant pollinators, they are the ones that do most of the heavy lifting, yet they get the least attention.
Dr. Sheila Colla, a conservation biologist at York University, states many people believe honeybees are wild bees. They are not. Honeybees are for honey production and pollination of some crops, they are not even native to North America. Sheila decries the lack of knowledge about native bees of which Ontario has over 350 species, most of them ground nesters, saying, "even the most avid naturalist groups don't know about the diversity of our wild bees."
Why the confusion about the kinds of bees in need of our help?
Many people became more concerned when beekeepers called for support to fight neonicotinoids (insecticides), "but they made it seem like this was the biggest threat, when in fact it is one of many," Sheila says.
According to Sheila, pathogens from managed bees and diseases spillover are the biggest threat to wild bumblebees, the wild bees which are the best studied. "Disease tends to increase because we manage bees in densities higher than they would be found in nature."
As an example, Sheila points to the bat population that contracted 'white nose syndrome.' "Over 90 per cent were impacted because when an animal is introduced to a disease they were never exposed to before, it can be catastrophic."
Sheila argues that planting good quality habitat that provides both spring and fall flowers is one of the most significant things we can do.
We need to beware of misconceptions — even the bee condo, while useful for education purposes is not so innocent a conservation tool. Research by Scott MacIvor's lab shows that bee condos are more parasitized, and fungus issues occur frequently.
For Sheila, "it comes down to a western way of thinking that we can manage the environment and make it work the way we want to. This highlights to me it's one knowledge system we are still applying."
For Immediate Release
June 4, 2019
Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project & Donut Monster: Pollinator Awareness Campaign
Celebrating & Raising Awareness About Pollinators Throughout June
Pollinators are a sweet deal!
That's why the Pollinator Paradise Project is partnering with Donut Monster throughout June to raise awareness about the vital work these little critters do. By pollinating wild plants and food crops, they help provide one out of every three bites of the food we eat.
To this end, Donut Monster’s “Pollinator Donut”--a Rosemary Maple Brûlé--delivers a tasty bite with a very serious message.
“Pollinator populations are rapidly declining due to factors such as habitat loss, pesticide use, and climate change,” says Project Manager, Jen Baker. “In fact, the recent UN global biodiversity assessment estimated that about 1 in 10 insect species are threatened with extinction.” The loss of pollinators (and biodiversity in general) means serious negative impacts on the health of our ecosystems.
“We’re excited about creating the Maple Rosemary Brûlée donut to bring awareness to the Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project,” say owners Heidi and Reuben Vanderkwaak. “It is a very tangible way for the community to get involved. The donut has an amazing flavour and we really hope that highlighting this project will cause our customers to stop and consider how they can find simple ways to improve biodiversity in Hamilton.”
Many ways to Help. Many ways to Celebrate.
The Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project is planting a paradise for pollinators across Hamilton by creating habitat with native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. Because the need to raise awareness about the plight of pollinators is so urgent, the project is taking National Pollinator Week (June 17-June 23) and making a Pollinator Month of it!
HERE'S WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Supporting pollinators is a win-win-win for everyone--pollinators, plants, and people!
Learn more about the project: https://www.hamiltonpollinatorparadise.org/
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Beatrice Ekoko, Communications Manager at email@example.com or call 905 549 0900.
The Ford Government has announced changes to Ontario's Endangered Species Act & these changes will only put endangered species at greater risk! Visit Environment Hamilton to get details and help in preparing written comments to submit to the province through the Environmental Registry of Ontario.
Environment Hamilton held workshops earlier this month, and has made the slides from the workshop available on the website.
A FACTS & ACTION SHEET is also provided on the website. It covers everything you need to know about the proposed changes to Ontario's Endangered Species Act and how you can submit your comments to the province. CLICK HERE to the Environmental Registry Posting. Deadline to submit comments is Saturday May 18th, 2019.
If you have any questions we are here to help!
Email Juby at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office 905-549-0900
Hamilton Monarch Awards 2019: For gardens that nature loves, by gardeners who love nature!
Hamilton has a unique garden award program that recognizes function as well as good looks.
The Monarch Awards (since 2016) showcase and champion gardeners who create nature-friendly spaces full of native plant diversity, pollinator habitat, healthy soil, and sustainable, ecologically sound approaches to garden care. In 2018, the Monarch Awards added a new category for beginners who have just begun their “gardening for nature” journey. The Caterpillar Award recognizes those gardeners who are on their way to becoming mature Monarchs.
***NEW in 2019***
Changes to the 2019 Monarch Awards include the following:
*A move away from the competition aspect of the awards in favour of offering an inclusive opportunity to celebrate more of the work being done by nature gardeners across Hamilton.
*No longer a contest, the Monarch Awards will become a standard of excellence.
Instead of looking for “the best” gardens we’ll be looking for all the really good ones, made by gardeners who are consciously and knowledgeably creating places where nature can thrive.
*Entrants can look forward to more garden visits next year. Visits include feedback, encouragement, and suggestions from the judges.
The six categories (soil, water, plants, materials/hardscaping, cultural practices, and aesthetics) remain the same and judges will be looking for achievements in each of these areas.
Apply today to one of these programs. It’s free!
Entry deadline is midnight Sunday on June 30, 2019. Judges’ site visits are scheduled for mid-July.
Questions? Send us an email email@example.com
For more information visit http://monarchawardshamilton.org/
The Monarch Awards is a collaborative program of the Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project (Environment Hamilton and the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club), the Crown Point Garden Club and the Royal Botanical Gardens. The City of Hamilton takes a great interest in this program and supports our efforts yearly by hosting the Awards celebration at City Council Chambers.
Lime and Limestone company, Carmeuse has planted pollinator gardens at their Dundas and Beachville sites. Carmeuse’s management team looked to Ingrid Hengemuhle, Area Quality Control Manager for Canada, to develop the pollinator gardens.
According to Hengemuhle, “With the support and encouragement of Carmeuse management, our employees and members of the community worked hard to create the pollinator garden that has become a functional beautification at our plant.”
The 600 square foot, two-tiered Dundas garden was created in the fall of 2018. The design was in-house: “We have the heavy equipment, the armor stone and the staff. Staff volunteers will maintain the garden,” John Tennant, Carmeuse Site Operations Manager at Dundas, said. “This is a beautiful result of combined efforts to work together on something that has a sustainable impact.”
A second 500 square foot garden was also created at Beachville.
Local nurseries worked with the teams in selecting a variety of native plant species that would be in bloom in the garden from early spring to late summer. This is necessary for hungry pollinators seeking food and shelter in addition to a place to reproduce across these seasons.
“It’s incredible. I didn’t realize there were so many different native plants that were attractive to pollinators,” Hengemuhle remarks.
The entire process to assemble the gardens took a month. The Carmeuse Dundas garden is now included on the Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project map to help build a Pollinator Corridor across the city, and with this program’s “We are Feeding Pollinators” sign staked firmly in the ground at the site, Carmeuse employees are eagerly waiting for the warmth to bring out the flowers and attract wild bees, butterflies, small birds, and other little beneficial critters.
Planting native species to support nature and biodiversity is becoming more popular. This is great news for declining pollinator populations. At the same time, there are a number of myths and misconceptions around native plant gardening and pollinators that we are going to dispel in this blog post. Happy gardening for nature!
Native plant gardens are weedy and unruly
Truth: With thoughtful plant selection and design, and proper maintenance, native species gardens are gorgeous. As we do with all ornamental plants, gardeners select natives to serve particular design functions. Is it tall enough to go at the back of the border? Does it bloom when we want it to--either when nothing else is blooming, or when the bloom colour will coordinate with other plants blooming at the same time? Does it have a form or habit (upright, sprawling, arching) that works with the plants around it? It’s simply a matter of researching the plant habit, and understanding that, when placed in rich garden loam with lots of elbow room, many native plants will get bigger, and spread faster, than they would in a natural setting.
Native plants can be enthusiastic re-seeders in a garden. You can minimize the deluge of seedlings every spring by deadheading (cutting off the spent flowers) during the growing season or, if the seed heads are eaten by birds, just leave them. Roguing out seedlings in the spring is a learning opportunity, an excellent way to get up close and personal with your garden while providing plenty of seedlings to give away.
Many gardeners are also concerned with aggressive spreading through runners. It is true that SOME native species are aggressive spreaders but not all are! Canada Goldenrod is one aggressive species but do not judge all goldenrods by this one species behaviour! We have many species of goldenrods that are very mild mannered and will not spread by runners at all. Some well-behaved goldenrods include Stiff Goldenrod (Solidago rigida) for dry sun and Blue-stem (Solidago caesia) or Zig-zag Goldenrods (Solidago flexicaulis), for part shade). Goldenrods are bountiful contributors to biodiversity and are great pollinator plants.
Although common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) has a far-wandering root system, there are several species that work well in gardens. These “clumpers” include: Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata, good for loamy garden soil); Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa, good for drier spots); and Poke Milkweed (Asclepias exaltata, good for part shade.)
There’s no harm in staking or supporting native plants if they get floppy or too tall. You can also cut them back to keep them shorter, although this may delay the bloom time by a week or so. And there’s no rule against mixing native and non-native in your garden--it’s not all or nothing!
For choosing suitable native plants, visit the Ontario Native Plants website. Check out our Resources and Guides page.
Preserving and Enhancing the Genetic Diversity of Southern Ontario Plants with Puslinch Naturally Native Trees
“I love the winter time,” Marion Robertson says to me, over the speakerphone. She’s got the kettle on and lets me know that her husband and business partner Richard, may be popping in and out of the conversation. They are owners of Puslinch Naturally Native Trees, a nursery plant stock supplier. Now that the snow is thick on the ground, it’s the ideal time to do inventory and plan for the spring.
“I can research other classes of plants and trees and spend the next year sourcing them,” she says.
Marion shares a little about the origins of the business. They began as beekeepers (and still are). Richard chimes in, “We started growing trees, shrubs and wildflowers because of the honeybees and also endangered pollinators. You start out looking at one aspect; originally it was asking ourselves how we could help.”
With the best of intentions in mind, the couple purchased trees and shrub stock from local area nurseries. But what they discovered was that within a year, a good portion of these trees and shrubs had died.
The lesson learned? “A Latin, botanical name only ensures you are getting that specific plant. It does not indicate the origin of the seed,” Marion says. Plants from locally collected seeds have a much higher survival rate than those plants imported from outside an area’s growth zone.
“It was next to impossible to find Carolinian or native stock from seed collected in our area at our local nurseries. That’s why we started our nursery business.”
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