Front Garden Recognition Program Shares Its Winning Results

The Front Garden Recognition Program took place from June 21 to 30. Teams of judges from the Horticultural Society worked diligently to identify front gardens that would qualify as entries.

Kingsville was then divided into 10 judging zones, taking in the entirety of the Town from the shores of Lake Erie to County Road 8, and the Arner Sideroad (County Road 23) to the Albuna Sideroad (County Road 31). Each judge created a shortlist of five homes per zone. With permission from the homeowner, the judge inspected the property and awarded points based on criteria set by the Ontario Horticultural Association.

During the judging exercise, it became very clear just how many people were using their energies during the COVID lockdown to focus on their gardens. There has clearly been a renewed interest in beautifying our homes with gardens, in promoting native Carolinian plants, shrubs and trees, in protecting our endangered plants and wildlife and in restoring our natural heritage.

Citizens are spending time turning their yards into inviting stay-cations.

After judging was completed, there were 10 winning gardens with 1 Leonard Drive deemed the overall winner.  There were also 33 honourable mentions identified.

Kingsville falls within a unique bioregion called the Carolinian zone. Growth and development have endangered many native species and, in turn, this loss threatens the existence of some wildlife.

Liz Rogers, one of the judges, remembers being greatly impacted when her sister taught and guided her as she landscaped her property with Carolinian plants, shrubs and trees in order to restore it to its natural heritage.

Her formal, organized gardens support native plantings as well as some non-native plants. She feels great satisfaction knowing that this naturalization has improved her landscape and has contributed to healing the environment.

By viewing and exploring other gardens, Liz saw many sustainable practices at work. These included rain barrels and composters being used by local homeowners. She enjoys looking at and listening to gardeners explain their plans, their goals and their problems.  Gardens are an evolving process and she was pleased to be a judge for the Front Garden Recognition Program.

The Ontario Horticultural Society’s Judging Criteria

1) Design:
– Creativity and originality
-Balance, scale and style
– Colour and texture

2) Selection, arrangement & use of plant material:
– Diversity and suitability
– Arrangement of plants
– Material that encourages beneficial insects, butterflies, bees etc.
– Use of colour and texture
– Use of native species

3) Condition and maintenance:
– Overall cleanliness, tidiness and state of repair of property including buildings, driveways, parking etc.
– Control of weeds
– Overall plant health and vigour

4) Hard landscaping and features:
– Condition of driveway, walkways and other hard surfaces
– Appropriate use of stone, rock, walls, fencing, statuary, garden art, containers, water features

5) Environmental Practices:
– Use of mulches, compost etc.
– Evidence of water management (e.g. rain barrel, rain gardens)
– Use of beneficial and native species

6) Community Contribution:
– How garden contributes to beautification of neighbourhood and environmental health of pollinators and other wildlife

7) Distinction:
– Impact and overall appeal

Interested residents can view winning front gardens from the sidewalk while respecting COVID distancing. Most, if not all, of the homeowners have proudly displayed the winning sign on their front lawn so they will be easy to spot if you’re out and about.

If you’re lucky, you might just find them at home and outside and they may share the story of their garden or invite you for a closer look.

Future plans for the Kingsville Horticultural Society include the possibility of showcasing gardens (with the owners’ permission) through the use of garden tours. And with the growing popularity of gardening, it’s hoped that there will be more participants from year to year.

During these unprecedented times, gardening gives us all a chance to be more physically active, to experiment and to learn new gardening techniques by planting new and diverse plants, shrubs and trees. Growing concerns about climate change have also spurred citizens to recognize the need to protect our environment.

Heather Crewe, President of the Kingsville Horticultural Society, noted that the 10 zone winners will also receive a one-year membership to Kingsville Horticultural Society, effective until the end of December 2022. The Honourable Mentions will receive a framed certificate to display.

Heather was pleased to see that the gardeners were thrilled to be recognized and appreciated by fellow gardeners for their achievement. This recognition acknowledges the hard work and many hours of back-breaking labour that go into the creation and maintenance of a beautiful garden.

With so many great entries and a very tight race in several of the judging zones, it’s expected that next year’s program will have even more entries as competition heats up. In the end, everyone wins as our town is beautified from end to end.

Interested in Being Part of the Kingsville Horticultural Society?

Meetings are held once a month from September to May. Individual memberships are $15 a year and family memberships are $20 a year.

In addition to the Front Garden Beautification Program, the membership holds a community event called Seedy Saturday. This involves seed exchanges, speakers, vendors, demonstrations, and a chance to ask a Master Gardener questions.

Each year, there is a Plant Sale and Garden Show. There is also a Junior Gardener Competition that children ages 4 to 14 can participate in and learn about gardening by planting a small garden. Seeds, a list of instructions, and guidance are provided to these budding gardeners.

A bursary is available to help support horticulturalist and environmentalists with their studies.

There are many gardens and pots in our community that are tended to by the membership and help is always welcomed.

2021 Front Garden Recognition Program’s Winning Properties 

116 E Road 11
South Woodslee

150 County Road 34 East

1660 Elgin St.

1001 McCain Sideroad

1202 Nottingham Ave.

873 McRae Ave.

1 Leonard Drive

57 Palmer Drive

22 Santos Drive

364 Heritage Road

All photos and video provided by Les McDonald/Digital Voodoo Media


  1. Avatar Pamela Richardson

    Way to go Desmarais family – Kim, Beverley and Joe! And I’m sure little Winston also left his mark! This is so deserved – I have enjoyed your garden up close and I am in awe of your creativity and all the hard work. It was a great choice Kingsville Horticultural Society. And bravo to all the worthy Kingsville garden entries!

  2. Avatar john woelk

    I cant believe that the judges missed 1381 Oxford Ave East Kingsville….

  3. Avatar StellasWorks

    Congratulations Bev & Kim ! Gardening is a healing tool full of Beauty. It doesn’t surprise me that your garden was selected as both gardeners are so naturally creative👍

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