Are you a “green” gardener who has invasive plants on your hit list? You might be eligible for a major award!

It’s City Beautification time again, and once again Clean North will be sponsoring the Green Glove Award category. Nominations for this award (and other City Beautification awards) will be accepted until July 17.

Each year the Green Glove Award recognizes a local gardener who is practicing sustainable gardening through use of native species; planting species friendly to wildlife (especially birds, bees, and butterflies); composting garden waste; using rain barrels and other water conservation tools and techniques; and using natural pest and disease control methods.

For 2017, Clean North is working with the Invasive Species Centre to add a new focus to the Green Glove Award criteria — avoiding invasive garden plants such as periwinkle, goutweed, creeping bellflower, non-native honeysuckle shrubs, buckthorn, and Himalayan balsam.

“Gardeners can play an important role in preventing spread of invasive plants,” said Don McGorman of Clean North. “Sometimes we think there’s no risk to an invasive plant being in our garden if we don’t live in the middle of the forest. The truth is invasive species can easily escape into natural areas within and around the city, crowding out native plants and harming ecosystems.”

photo of Himalayan balsam seedlingsDon notes that Himalayan balsam (photo of seedlings at right) is a perfect example. Many people love having this annual in their yard because it gets very tall and produces many beautiful pink flowers. But each plant produces thousands of seeds, and each seedhead explodes on touch, rocketing seeds up to six metres away. Himalayan balsam can now be found in many natural areas across the city.

“The Invasive Species Centre is pleased to be partnering with Clean North on this initiative to shine a spotlight on the threat that invasive garden plants pose to our local ecosystems,” said Tracey Cooke, the centre’s executive director. “This new facet of the award dovetails nicely with our other invasive species outreach programs, such as the Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) Network Ontario, which is established in Sault Ste. Marie and expanding to the Algoma-Manitoulin catchment.”

You do not have to have zero invasive species in your garden to be eligible for the Green Glove Award, but the more native plants and less invasives, the better. You may nominate yourself or someone else; nomination forms are posted on the City of Sault Ste. Marie’s City Beautification page.

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