Welcome to our 13-year old, guest-blogger, Catherine Coon. Catherine interviewed 13-year old, Maia Whitman about her experience, receiving a Caterpillar Award (a Hamilton Monarch Awards' "beginner-level" award of excellence, for gardens that nature loves, by gardeners who love nature).
First, a little bit about Catherine. In her own words she says:
"I love anime and cuddling with my cats while writing and reading. I'm passionate about the environment, and think that being involved in any way we can is important."
In reviewing Maia's application for the Monarch Awards, we can see the two have a lot in common. Maia, who applied on behave of her family, told us that she loves pollinators. She wrote about her garden's "many pollinatr-friendly features":
"For starters, our front lawn has been seeded with clover and it is slowly taking over the grass! When the clover blooms, the
bees and bumblebees are everywhere! Another feature is our Linden Tree. It is about to bloom, and we are eagerly awaiting what we like to call the annual Bee Day! Once a year, for a day or two, the tree blooms and the honey bees go crazy - you can hear them from the house!"
And now for Catherine's Q & A with Maia!
CC: So, I’m gonna ask some questions about the Monarch Awards which took place this year, that you got a Caterpillar Award from, if I’m right. Ok so I’ll start asking them. So how did you find out about it?
MW: Actually, a family friend of ours participates and she told me about it. Well, actually she told my mom about it and my mom told me.
CC: Did you apply in other years, previously?
MW:Yeah, I applied last year, they didn’t come to visit [the judges]. I have applied before, but only once.
CC: Was it any different with Covid? I mean, the process.
MW: Um, well we did have a chance to do a lot more work on the gardens, so I suppose that would be different, but other than that it was more or less the same.
CC: What motivated you to apply?
MW: Well, I do my best to be very eco-friendly, and I really like raising monarchs and being very active when it comes to environmental stuff, and I figured this would be a great opportunity to do exactly what I do all the time. If that makes sense.
CC: It does. So what plants did you use in the garden?
MW: What plants? Well, we have a variety of plants. We’ve got a lot of trees, a lot of fruit trees actually. We have a lot of native plants, we plant a lot of herbs. We also use pollinator packs, you can get them from the Canadian Wildlife foundation. So, yeah.
CC: Do you have any favourite plants?
MW: Well, my favourite plant in general is lavender, I do like lavender. But I also do really like the maple trees that we have.
CC: I also like maple trees. So, did it attract any exotic, or interesting creatures?
MW: In the garden in general we get a lot of butterflies. We get a lot of caterpillars, especially in the parsley and milkweed. We get a lot of birds coming around looking for sticks. I know we had a Carolina wren at one point, or like a house wren and those don’t normally come around very often, so that was pretty cool. We found a tiger swallowtail caterpillar in our tulip tree, that’s never happened before.
CC: Ok. Are there any things you wish you could’ve changed about your garden?
MW: Honestly, no. I like it. A lot.
CC: Did you find it stressful, or aggravating sometimes?
MW: Well, I mean it was a lot of work so that was… interesting. I wouldn’t say stressful was the word, but it did require a lot of work and a lot of hours put in. And watering, especially considering it was so dry, and a lot of weeding, God, was there so much weeding!
CC: So when the judges visited your garden, did they offer you tips to improve it?
MW: Not too many… they did say that planting even more native plants would be even better, yeah stuff like that. More native plants, planting especially butterfly and bee friendly plants. Just kind of like extending on stuff that I’ve planted.
CC: Do you have any advice for other gardeners out there?
MW: I would say just keep at it. It can take quite a while, depending on how big the garden is, or how long it takes for your plants to grow, but eventually it’ll get to a point where it looks really nice if you just keep working at it.
CC: And for the last question, are you planning to apply in 2021?
MW: Yes, I think I am. I think it probably would be a good idea, and I mean, why not?
Why not, indeed, we ask? Thanks again, Catherine and Maia for this interview and for helping to spread the words about this important initiative. We wish you both success in your eco-friendly pursuits.