Mark Cullen e-newsletter
December 2011 
 Gardening with Mark
In This Issue:
Where to Find Mark
Mark's Gardening Connections

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Done - Enjoy the Winter Off.

Well it is over.
The gardening season that is.
The sure sign that things are over and done is the digging of the leeks. That was this afternoon. And I planted the last of my garlic, which will be ready for picking in July.

Don't you wish that more veggie garden produce was on this cycle? Plant in the late fall, harvest in early summer. Come May everything - and I mean everything - seems to need planting and come August/September most everything needs to be harvested. Maybe I am getting old and cranky, but spreading out the 'garden activity' over the entire 9 month season would be a treat.

That is all that I am saying.

 Christmas List

Gift Ideas Now, you may be thinking of the gardeners on your Christmas list. Rather than tell you what every gardener wants and needs, like virtually anything in the Mark's Choice line up at Home Hardware - because every item was designed with the dedicated gardener in mind.
No, rather than tell you that if you cannot make a selection from over 100 quality gardening products, many made in Canada and all of them 'torture tested' in my 10 acre garden I will suggest something else.

I would like to challenge you to think outside of the gardening box.

Think about the person that each gardener IS and let me suggest that almost no one that gardens limits their life interests to gardening. Instead, gardening is an extension of a broader base of interests that often includes birding, hiking, flower arranging, painting and a keen interest in local history.

I learned this last spring when I visited Pincher Creek in Alberta, the National Award winner of the 'Community Involvement Award' for Communities in Bloom. I noticed as they toured me around the town that the volunteers at the Veterans memorial garden and the 'Seniors' fish pond and the historic village and the community gardens were the same people.

The lesson here is to think of the gardeners on your list not just as gardeners, the way that you might think of sailors as people who sail and golfers as people who golf. No. Gardeners are conservationists, outdoor enthusiasts and generally quite social by nature.


 Gardening Cures Shyness

gifts Speaking of 'social' it is true that gardening cures shyness. Get a bunch of plant lovers together and you have a conversation, every time.

For those of you still having trouble let me offer this low hanging fruit as suggestions for gardening gifts: magazine subscriptions, hand pruners, gloves, quality bird seed (Mark's Choice Bird Feast is the good stuff!), gardening books (The Canadian Garden Primer by Mark Cullen is highly recommended in this newsletter), a journal, a camera for the shed/garage, clay pots and of course gift cards to their favourite garden retailer.



Twitter Since I last talked to you I have joined Twitter. Each day there is a tweet or two of some significance and to be consistent with Twitter content, sometimes of not much significance at all. It is all in fun and in the name of continuing education.

Follow my tweets 

 Facebook Fan Page

Book cover With all of this talk about twitter I have been giving more attention to my Facebook fan page. Have a look. And enter to win a signed copy of my newest book The Canadian Garden Primer. It is such a cool book.

Just press the 'Like' button at the top of my page and bingo you are eligible.


 Win another book!

Amaryllis bloom Look for our upcoming contest to win another book.

All you have to do is grow an amaryllis and post a photo. Winners will have grown the most blooms and in the mean time will have won the race to grow a long, fast stem.
I prefer that you grow a Mark's Choice amaryllis as this is the best quality amaryllis bulb that you can buy.
But we won't insist upon it.

Watch for contest details on my Facebook page starting January 2nd, 2012.


 This is Christmas Month

Christmas My daughter Emma, who lives in London England, has always claimed February as HER birthday month.
I think that she learned this from Baby Jesus, whose birthday we begin celebrating with songs ('carols') in late November. Advent, as they like to say, is 4 weeks. It is another way of saying that this is Jesus' birthday month.

Enjoy it, whatever your faith background and belief.
And remember that we are all on the same page with the 'peace on earth' stuff.

Eat well, stay well, hug the ones you love and enjoy some peace on your slice of earth.

Merry Christmas,

p.s. many thanks to all who responded to my last newsletter message about the dreadful noise and pollution machines otherwise known as 'gas powered leaf blowers'. Your emails were poignant and fun. Only one of you told me that you like your leaf blower and he is a good friend from Bellville who was just trying to pull my chain. I know that, in his heart, he hates leaf blowers too. Good work Garth!


 Mark's Choice Product of the Month
 Amaryllis Kit

Amaryllis kit As a hostess gift, as a 'stocking stuffer' or as a stand-alone gift for anyone, young and old and in between - you really cannot go wrong. Not with a good quality amaryllis anyway.
Which brings me to the Mark's Choice amaryllis kit that we sell at Home Hardware. We made a mistake when we designed the packaging for this item, in my opinion. We did not draw enough attention to the oversize bulb that the gift box contains. It is 32 centimeters in circumference. That is the largest bulb that you can possibly buy: most of our competition sell 24, 26 or (sometimes) a 28 cm bulb.

Our bulbs support so many blossoms and flowering stems that many people have reported 3 or 4 stems with 4 flowers on each stem! I get more photos emailed to me of these bulbs in bloom than of any other Mark's Choice product (and there are 150 of them!)
I tell you this because I do not want you to miss the opportunity to really wow the people on your gift list. This is your chance to really impress them without doing any work. The 'soil', pot, bulb and instructions are all in the gift box.

This is the best possible quality that you can buy: ask a Dutchman that knows. They grow all of our bulbs for us.
(Home Hardware item# 5029-303, red and # 5029-304, striped)


 A Fireside Chat with Mark

Fireside chat Join me December 1st from noon to 1:30pm at the Opera House in downtown Gravenhurst. Hosted by Gravenhurst Home Hardware, I will be sharing my thoughts on gardening and discussing my experiences in the industry. There will be lots of time to chat with the audience and take your questions.

Following the fireside chat I will be signing copies of my book, the Canadian Garden Primer, with proceeds going to Sick Kids Hospital. I encourage you to join me on December 1 for this unique opportunity.

With many thanks to Gravenhurst Home Hardware for the invitation.

For more information 

 Very Exciting Stuff!
 A Fundraiser for the Windsor Hockey Heritage Society

Long Pond The Windsor Hockey Heritage Society in partnership with the Town of Windsor, King's Edgehill School, Windsor Home Hardware and Howard Dill Enterprises (Long Pond) are working together to create an exciting fundraiser for the Windsor Hockey Heritage Society.

The event will be called the Birthplace of Hockey, Long Pond Heritage Classic. The event will be the ultimate hockey experience for the true hockey fan. The day will include a private viewing of the hockey museum, the chance to follow the historic footsteps by playing in a game on Long Pond, an after game meal, and an evening of hockey with like minded individuals.

The players will keep their own unique jerseys, custom made hockey stick, as well as receive a tax receipt for $250. Organizers are expecting 72 players at $500 each.

I recommend that you sign up soon. I have 8 guys planning to fly out there from the Toronto area. It will be a hoot for anyone that loves hockey!!

This event will take place on February 11, 2012.

For more information 

 Deer Control in the Winter Months

Deer repellent In speaking to Home Hardware customers over the years, I have come to understand the difficulties in maintaining your defense against hungry herbivores.
Deer, rabbits, squirrels, and ground hogs are difficult to repel in the nicest of climates, but when you factor in the cold, this is when all strategies are put to the test. Although the animals tend to fatten up before the first snow fall, the cold and snow quickly deplete precious calories and hide nutritious treasures in their natural environments.

When you consider deer preferred vs. deer resistant plants, people tend to draw a fine line that separates what they like from what they don't. This is definitely not the case. The argument for deer resistant plants should involve the introduction of a broad spectrum line of plants which has daffodils on one end and tulips on the other. Deer and other animals will move up and down this line due to simple environmental variables such as climate, available food source, animal population, and geographical space. These are only a few variables that influence deer and other animal to feed on plants.

The more urgent any one of these variables is, the more likely the animals will move along the spectrum line to a plant or shrub that no one thought they would eat. We make the same choices every day. Would you rather have filet mignon or a hamburger? Or for the vegetarians out there that choice between a beautifully made salad and a plate of celery sticks?

As home owners, just remember in desperate times, deer and other animals will eat almost anything to survive.
So when you're done raking that last leaf, be sure to put an extra application of my favourite repellent, Bobbex, on your shrubs and/or re-check your fencing before the temperature remains below freezing.

In my experience there is nothing as effective.

For more info. 

 Time to Order

Garden Journal Looking for the perfect gift for the organized gardener on your list this Christmas - or maybe the gardener who wants to get organized? "Watching My Garden Grow" by Those Dame Gardeners is just what you are looking for.
It's a compact organizer that enables everyone to improve and monitor their gardens. This book holds plant tags and receipts as well as photos and garden maps all in one place. No more frustrated searching for information.
It is a two year organizer making it extra value for your money. And it's easy to use.
"Watching My Garden Grow" is available on-line through the website:

Check it out! You'll be glad you did.


 Canada Blooms
 March 16-25, 2012

Canada Blooms Did you know: During move-in, in a 10 hour time frame, Canada Blooms brings in an average of 800 tons of sand, 420 cubic yards of mulch and 30 tractor trailer loads of stone and concrete products to help build the gardens.

The 2012 theme is CityCulture. Organizers have received a record number of applications for feature gardens. Now it's up to the Feature Garden Committee to decide.

New This Year! Co-location with the National Home Show. A fantastic, 10 day event where both 'shows' are yours for the price of one.

Sign up for the Canada Blooms newsletter to stay informed.