Mark Cullen e-newsletter
September 2010 
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Ahhhh! September! My favourite gardening month of the year. O.k., so I said that in May. When you think about it May and September have one important thing in common - No summer heat!! And in Central Canada, where I garden, this summer has been a hot one. In fact as I write this on the last day of August we are in the middle of another heat wave (technically 3 days of over 30 degree temperatures in a row).

September is for:
o Hummingbirds.
o Garden mums.
o Rudebeckia at its' peak.
o Echinacea going to seed: finches going crazy for it!
o A clean, cool, clear headed month where the kids are back at school and the neighbourhood is quiet on weekdays.
o Tomatoes on the vine. Fresh sweet corn too.
o The last swim.
o Good fishing.
o Buying Holland bulbs.
o A rest and then - a resurging of energy.

How 'bout you? Looking forward to fall? The time that best marks the Canadian gardening year as truly ours. Ask anyone from Europe or the Southern States - they don't get this. But then, I once again get ahead of myself. October is the month of changing colours.

So - what to do in the garden in September:

 Trees, Shrubs, Evergreens

pruning 101 The #1 question this time of year revolves around pruning trees shrubs, roses and evergreens. In short, my response: (for more details go to the 2 consecutive articles that I wrote on the subject for the Toronto Star at and

Trees: This is the best time of year to trim a deciduous tree (the ones that drop their leaves come fall). Fact is that if you prune a hardwood tree after the leaves fall off of it you risk 'bleeding' the tree come spring.
Take a good look at the maples, birch, oak, locust and the like around your property - are you happy with their size and shape? If not, get out there and use a green wood saw (one that cuts on the fore stroke and backstroke: look for the Mark's Choice quality version of this saw at Cut as much as one third of the tree out without worry that you have cut too much.

Shrubs: the rule of thumb is to prune any spring-flowering shrub before mid September. Prune later and you will risk cutting off flower buds that will produce bloom next year. Lilacs, purple sand cherries, forsythia, Service Berry etc. all could use some attention this time of year. As for fall-blooming shrubs like hydrangea and Rose of Sharon: leave the pruning until spring.

Evergreens: All evergreens lend themselves to pruning this time of year. Cedar and junipers more so than spruce, pine, fir and the like. The 'soft' evergreen species like cedar, boxwood and junipers may produce a final, short soft flush of growth early this fall which will 'fill out' the look of the plant as it heads into winter. The 'needled' species like spruce and pine etc. produce their new growth in late spring and early summer. Pruning them now will not hurt them but you will be stuck with the 'look' of them after the pruning until next spring. Which, I hesitate to remind you, is about 8 months away for most of us.


 Lawn Care & Holland Bulbs

lawn image Your Lawn.
This is the best time of year to start a new lawn from seed or to lay sod or to thicken a lawn with bare/thin patches. Buy good quality grass seed - Golfgreen is all that I use because it is virtually weed free, they put excellent quality seed in every bag and the company is Canadian.
Go to

Holland Bulbs.
If visions of tulips, daffodils, crocus and other spring lovelies are dancing in your head, better get yourself to a quality garden retailer and buy some bulbs this month. While the majority of spring flowering bulbs are planted in October (after the perennials have waned and annuals pooped-out) September is by far the best month to BUY your bulbs as the selection is at its' very best.
And by the way, how did the Dutch get all of the credit for growing the bulbs that we Canadians buy each fall? Truth is the majority of daffodils that are sold in Canada are actually grown here. The lower main land of B.C. and Vancouver Island harbours a thriving industry of daffodil bulb growing. In fact, if you are looking for a really interesting trip next March and early April plan on visiting. While you are there you might want to visit 'Skagit Valley' in Washington State where a lot of tulips are grown. There is an annual festival there in April that is worth a look (official dates for 2011 have not yet been announced). Go to for more info on the Skagit Valley festival.


 Feed the Birds

Truth is the seed eating birds in your neighbourhood are being well fed naturally by the many mature perennials and berry producing shrubs that are in harvest-mode right now. Don't let that stop you from filling your feeder, mind you. I am filling all 13 of mine, many with my own 'Mark's Choice Bird Feast' which is made of a special blend of 10 of the seeds that birds find most attractive. Produced in Canada too. Go to for more info.

By the way, hummingbirds are moving south from the boreal forests of northern Canada right now and they are eating their way through your yard in an effort to beef up for the long flight south. If ever there was a time to feed the hummers, this would be it.

Is that about it? By no means.

A daily walk through your garden will reveal many exciting and interesting developments including weeds that should be pulled before they go to seed (exciting - yes!!) and compost that needs emptying to make room for the fallen leaves of October - but I get ahead of myself.

Once again a reminder to take time for yourself: don't suffer from the common malady that gardeners suffer. That of 'working' all of the time and never sitting down! But then, isn't that why gardeners live longer?

More below - don't miss this stuff.
By the way, I am in Hamilton for a Home Hardware event on Saturday, September 18th and looking forward to meeting you, should you be in the area. It will be fun.

Thanks for subscribing, reading and gardening. Any suggestions are always most welcome - I love to hear from you.

Keep your knees dirty,

Merchant of Beauty.


 Mark's Choice Product of the Month
 Monochromatic Bulb Collections

bulb collections As I have traveled across Canada with Home Hardware, I've noticed a growing trend among gardeners - en masse plantings of bold coloured plants.
When it comes to winter-hardy Holland Bulbs, the Mark's Choice research team has come up with a knock-out collection of "monochromatic" or "same coloured" spring flowering bulbs.The varieties offered in each box have been carefully selected to provide the greatest possible show. Every variety includes "top sized" bulbs for the greatest colour and largest plants in their category.
I am so excited about the new Monochromatic Bulb Collections that I plan to give many away as gifts this autumn.
Available in red, yellow, pink and blue.
(Home Hardware item#s:5029-159/220/337/346)

Find out more.... 

 Where is Mark this month?

logo Saturday, September 18.

Grand Opening of Dartnall Road Home Hardware.
10 Dartnall Road, Hamilton, Ontario
For more information, contact the store at 905-383-3353.


 Harrowsmith's Truly Canadian Almanac
 Available September 1st, 2010

alamanac The TRULY CANADIAN ALMANAC features all the gardening, do-it-yourself, country cooking and eco-homes stories that you count on from HARROWSMITH, plus all the astrology and weather forecasts you expect from a farmer's almanac.

The all-Canadian cast features organic gardening, green living, eco-homes, long-range weather forecasts, month-by-month night sky, useful calendar, a celebration of our small towns and so much more! The most useful compendium of entertainment and information for countryside-loving Canadians.

Find out more.... 

 Podcasts on
 What to Expect this Month Every Wednesday, on, I post a new podcast. Each edition of The Garden Show podcast features timely gardening tips, Questions of the Week and the Mark's Choice Product of the Week.

This month the topics will include:

* September 1: Pruning 101
* September 8: How to Prune Trees, Shrubs and Evergreens
* September 15: Who Says the Gardening Season is Over?
* September 22: Spring Flowering Bulbs
* September 29: Fall Colour

My weekly blog is also posted every Wednesday.
Follow this link to find From the Garden Shed by Mark Cullen.

Find out more....