Tammy Frakking was as green as they come when she first started gardening, but that didn’t mean her thumb was green.
It was seven summers ago, and the Niagara Falls woman had a very special reason for wanting to try her hand at gardening.
“I had never attempted gardening before,” she said. “My motivation was that I had just recently lost my husband to cancer, and I wanted to create a memorial garden.”
Being a rookie, Frakking leaned on the experience of her dad Bill and a neighbour, and through trial and error eventually grew a large vegetable garden. Each year since, she has expanded her flower garden, to which she has added whimsical painted stones, three-dimensional sculptures, upcycled fountains and pollinator-safe watering stations with shallow dishes filled with marbles and small stones so bees can’t drown.
“My favourite part of gardening is watching the plants grow, and I feel incredibly happy when I see beneficial insects such as monarchs and bees visiting my garden,” she said.
While the garden brings joy to Frakking, Leslie Laan said it and other gardens cared for so lovingly by residents in Niagara Falls also promote a sense of community and civic pride among residents in those neighbourhoods.
Frakking’s garden at 7683 Woodbine St. was named a gold winner in the city’s 2022 Summer Trillium Recognition Program awards presented on Sept. 14.
Laan is a member of the Trillium sub-committee of the Niagara Falls Park in the City Committee, which selects silver, gold, bronze and award of excellence winners each summer, with the goal of fostering city-wide beautification. But Laan said by promoting gardening, the awards also foster community.
“It gets neighbours talking,” she said. “It gets neighbourhoods talking and it creates very positive interactions. Gardening itself is a very social thing.”
Frakking can attest to that: it’s not uncommon for people walking their dogs or riding their bikes to stop and start chatting to her, telling her how much they enjoy seeing her garden.
“It makes me happy all day long to hear that what I am doing puts a smile on people’s faces and enriches their daily life, even just a little bit,” she said.
It’s a similar story for Lillian Morabito of 3767 Northwood Dr., whose garden has previously won silver and gold Trillium awards and which won the award of excellence this year.
The wide variety of plants are a haven for pollinators such as bees and for hummingbirds, and it’s a nightly ritual for foxes that live in the neighbourhood to cut through her yard and use a corner of the garden for bathroom breaks.
But passersby and neighbours also love the garden. A neighbour right across the street, inspired by her gardens, also dove into gardening and this year won a gold Trillium award.
Laan said some people, particularly young homeowners, are at a loss where to start in creating gardens. She said through the city’s Trillium program, people can get advice from landscape experts who share knowledge, and awards organizers even reached out to past winners to act as mentors.
Morabito encourages other neighbours to also try their hand at gardening, saying the payback is very real.
“I honestly believe a gardener is like a jeweller creating a beautiful necklace with rubies and sapphires and emeralds,” she said. “Every day it’s like Christmas morning when you wake up and you walk out and you see something blooming.
“I have such a love for gardening,” said Morabito. “It’s very rewarding.”
The other winners of Trillium awards can be viewed at https://niagarafalls.ca/city-hall/committees/park-in-the-city/trillium/default.aspx
STORY BEHIND THE STORY: With the 2022 Niagara Falls Trillium awards being presented, This Week looked at how the awards promote beautification and community spirit.