Michael Albanese, Caterpillar Awards 2019, Recipient. The Caterpillar Awards of the Hamilton Monarch Awards recognize the efforts of beginner gardeners, people making small gardens or “first try” gardens, regardless of the property size and
people with small “postage stamp” properties.
Michael Albanese’s garden is a rain garden, which is fitting since he is President of Avesi Stormwater and Landscape Solutions, where he helps people integrate rainwater into their landscapes.
By using his front yard to showcase a rain garden, Michael hopes to raise awareness around rainwater management and see more rain gardens in the community. His involvement with rain gardens dates back to 2008 during his undergraduate education in Earth Systems Science at the University of Waterloo: “That is where I was introduced to the concept of stormwater management and how it impacts our freshwater resources.” As Michael points out residential sites are critical to watershed health: “I saw a real opportunity to help people use their landscapes for good – being a steward for the environment starts at home, it doesn’t have to be the responsibility of cities.”
For Michael, we can take these spaces and make them better for people and the environment and improve our quality of water; "It’s important to think of rainwater as a resource rather than a nuisance. Everyone has a role to play, simple changes can improve the health of your watershed, that’s the beauty of this.”
Michael says he appreciates the Monarch Awards because it offers a chance to showcase practical solutions: “In general we can get so much more out of our landscapes. I realized action is the only thing that will help; it’s one thing to study an issue, it’s another thing to do something about it.”
In Michael’s case, the house he lives in had a perpetually wet backyard and water problems in the basement. The downspouts were draining water too close to the house: “Once I moved the downspouts further away from the house; it became a question of how to use soil and plants to absorb this water into the landscape.”
We asked Michael how difficult is it to build a rain garden? He responds that rain gardens vary in complexity.
“When I first started, I thought it had to be really elaborate,” Michael says, “but I find the more rain gardens I build, it’s not so complicated. You don’t need a PhD.”
Michael’s parting words? “I like to let the landscapes that I build do the talking for me — which plants are growing; which insects are around; how is the soil being managed, how is the landscape interacting with water.”
We agree, and that’s why Michael has joined the Hamilton Monarch Awards team as a judge for the 2020 Monarch Awards. We can’t wait!