Mark Cullen e-newsletter
June 2012 
 Gardening with Mark
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Mark's Gardening Connections

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You must be exhausted. I know that I am. Not 'fall-down-on-your-face' exhausted but 'I am so tired that I am sleeping like a baby and I feel good' exhausted.

There are so many tasks in the garden this time of year and the days start so early and end so late that, well, the old motor just doesn't have the stamina that it used to. This morning Mary got out of bed at 5:15 and got right back in. "I thought that it was 6" she whispered. So she lay there awake for an hour before getting up. You don't want your wick to burn out before the end of the day, right? We all have our strategies.

I no sooner get the weeds knocked down in the front yard, the paths mulched and it is time to do it in the back yard (again). This is what we love about the gardening experience, isn't it! The fact that 'finishing' the job is a moving target: further away from you each day. This time of year, anyway.

 We have something in common with golfers, I believe

Golf Are any golfers truly happy with their score? No matter how good a golfer gets they still find excuses to swear at an imperfect drive or putt. "Geeez. Blankedy blank." he mutters as he drives 280 yards into the rough. I would take that in a heartbeat. But then, not many golfers would trade my best shots for their worst shots. If you watched me play golf you would not recognize the game for the graceful thing that it is intended to be. That is why my list of partners is limited to about 3 good natured souls, one of whom is daughter Lynn who enjoys a good laugh.

Which brings me back to June gardening. Before you get frustrated just trying to keep up with the 'gardening chores' let me remind you why you did this in the first place. It was going to be fun. You looked out the window one day and said, "I am going to grow a tomato." And you did and it bore fruit and you enjoyed that and maybe shared tomatoes with your buddies and next thing you know you had containers of basil and thyme and dill all over the yard. You realized that you could DO IT: start stuff from seeds and plant a plant and watch it blossom into maturity and become the truly most beautiful geranium or astilbe on the planet. And it was YOURS.

That is why you started.



June garden I had a friend, the late Peter Bender, who once said to me that everyone who smokes starts for the same reason: a deficient self image. Why smokers continue to smoke is not so easy to determine as everyone does it for their own personal reasons, he would say.

I think that gardening is much the same as smoking, from this point of view. We start for the same reason: fun. We continue on this journey as it grows into a more personal one with each plant planted, every seed sown for our own personal reasons. I will not try to guess what your reasons are. I have enough trouble trying to figure out why I started a 10 acre garden 7 years ago. On some days 'temporary insanity' seems like the most logical reason of all.

But here we are, in the last period of the first game of the season. In hockey language planting time only has about 20 minutes of play left. Then we are on to the next: the game of flowering. This is when Mother Nature goes crazy with insects moving pollen and nectar at unconscionable rates all around the neighbourhood. They do not care about property lines or who owns what, every garden on the street is their oyster and they are determined to use them all for one purpose: to reproduce. And to feed, now that I think about it.

Gardeners have their reasons for doing what they do; insects and song birds have theirs.

Before you hear from me again in July the second game will be well under way. I urge you to take the time to drink in the action, the colour, the sights and the sounds of a June garden. There is a reason why so many weddings occur this month. I just won't go on about it here.


 Speaking of Weddings

Bouquet Our daughter Lynn - the famous knitter behind the counter at Mary's Yarns (when Mary and another Lynn aren't there) - announced her engagement to a wonderful young man by the name of Rene on Mother's Day. Delightful.

We now have 2 daughters engaged at the same time. I had better get back to the garden. The photos won't look very good if the weeds are as high as an elephant's eye, now will they?

A reminder to take in the many great garden tours of June. Wear flat soled shoes, take a camera, a hat, sun screen, a bottle of water and plan to make a day of it. At least. This is your only chance to get a public view of some wonderful private gardens. These tours almost always benefit some worthy charity at the same time, another reason to partake.

See below for an extensive list of garden tours in the GTA.


 June is the perfect month to:

- Mulch the garden

- Set up rain barrels

- Finish planting of annuals and vegetables (you can plant perennials and winter hardy plants all summer)

- Fertilize plants or add 2 cm of finished compost over their root zone

- Water deeply, but not too often

- Turn off the auto feature on in ground watering systems. Use the Manual feature to water when your garden and lawn need it

- Stake tomatoes with Mark's Choice spiral tomato stakes and never tie your tomatoes up again!

- For Father's Day check out my line up of Mark's Choice products at Home Hardware. All torture tested in my garden, all top quality (or I wouldn't put my name on them) and every one of the more than 200 products in the line up will enhance your gardening experience.


 Mark's Choice Product of the Month
 Push Reel Mower

Lawn mower We all know the environmental benefits of forgoing the gas mower in favour of an old-fashioned push mower, but did you know your lawn responds much better to the cutting action of a reel mower - which is more like a knife - than a rotary blade power model? My new Mark's Choice push mower is lighter than most, and cuts a 20" wide swath. This mower also allows for a cutting height of 2 ", which is the recommendation of most municipalities across Canada for optimum lawn performance. I believe that you will get years of satisfaction from this wonderful new push mower, and a better-looking lawn.

Picked #1 by a leading consumer magazine.

Exclusive to Home Hardware item# 5122-402


 Where is Mark this Month?

Mark Join me in June at Windsor Nova Scotia, Barrington Passage Nova Scotia, Weymouth Nova Scotia, Three Hills Alberta and Lloydminster Alberta for other special events. Always informative. Always fun. Always a great sale! Only at Home Hardware.

* Friday, June 1 and Saturday, June 2
Mark Cullen Approved Garden Centre Event
Iroquois Falls Home Hardware
Friday 5pm dinner at the Legion with my presentation beginning at 6pm
Saturday 10am - 1pm at Iroquois Falls Home Hardware
For tickets and info contact Alana (705)232-4029

* Thursday, June 7
Mark Cullen Approved Garden Centre Event
Lloydminster Home Hardware Building Centre
The store is hosting an all-day Scratch & Save sale. I will be there from 6pm -9pm.
For more info visit

* Saturday, June 9
Mark Cullen Approved Garden Centre Event
Three Hills Home Hardware

* Friday, June 22
Mark Cullen Approved Garden Centre Event
10am to 2pm
Wilson's Home Hardware, Barrington Passage, NS
For more info visit

* Saturday, June 23
Mark Cullen Approved Garden Centre Event
Sissiboo Home Hardware, Weymouth, NS
For more info visit


 Mark Cullen Approved Garden Centres

Mark Cullen Approved This spring I am delighted to announce that we are adding 5 new members to the 'Mark Cullen Approved' family of quality Home Hardware retailers.

These dealers have met the stringent standards for product selection, their staff have passed the exclusive Home Hardware 'Lawn and Garden' seasonal training program (delivered by my good friend Denis Flanagan!) and they maintain all of the plant inventory at exceptional quality levels.

I am proud of them all. In addition to Napanee, Ontario and Gravenhurst, Ontario, (which we opened in May) we have a total of 15 excellent Lawn and Garden retailers that are Mark Cullen Approved.

The 5 new Mark Cullen Approved Garden Centres can be found at:<br> Sissiboo Home Hardware Building Centre, Weymouth, Nova Scotia
Gravenhurst Home Hardware, Gravenhurst, Ontario
Napanee Home Hardware Building Centre, Napanee, Ontario
Three Hills Home Hardware Building Centre, Three Hills, Alberta
Iroquois Falls Home Hardware Building Centre, Iroquois Falls, Ontario

Congratulations to our new members who join this list of Mark Cullen Approved Garden Centres:<br> Handyman Home Hardware, Conception Bay South, Newfoundland
Lloydminster Home Hardware Building Center, Lloydminster, Alberta
Perth Home Hardware Building Centre, Perth, Ontario
Windsor Home Hardware, Windsor, Nova Scotia
Sussex Home Hardware Building Centre, Sussex, New Brunswick
Invermere Home Hardware Building Centre, Invermere, British Columbia
Brockville Home Hardware Building Centre, Brockville, Ontario
Wilson's Home Hardware Building Centre, Barrington Passage, Nova Scotia
Orillia Home Hardware Building Centre, Orillia, Ontario
Stratford Home Hardware Building Centre, Stratford, Prince Edward Island



The United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada is spreading the message. Gardeners are being asked to plant red geraniums this year as well as in 2013 and 2014 to commemorate the 200 years of peace between the American and Canadian borders and to remember those who gave their lives in the War of 1812-1814.


 Photos from Ross Traverse

Juniper My friend and the best known gardener in Newfoundland, Ross took this picture on Fogo Island off the northeast coast of Newfoundland. The Juniper is at least 150 or more years old. The root is growing right down at the base of the rock in the sand. It has been identified as Juniperus communis L.



Cherry This photo was taken by Ross on a trip to Japan last Fall.
The Ishiwarizakura is one of Morioka's most famous symbols of the spirit; endurance, against all hardships even the impossible; a cherry tree growing from solid granite.
Moreover, the beautiful petals come and fall each April and they have been growing for the past 350 - 400 years.
Standing strong in front of the Morioka courthouse, the uniqueness of this is such that it has been designated a national treasure, dear to all who take pride in being from Morioka.


 A New Contest
 Exclusive to 'Gardening with Mark' subscribers

Gardens Central Last month's contest was such a success that I am upgrading the prize this month.

Ask your gardening friends and family if they would like to receive my FREE monthly e-newsletter. If the answer is 'yes', send me their email address.

I will add your friend to my list of newsletter subscribers and both of your names will be entered into a draw.

The Grand Prize is a complimentary 1-year subscription to Gardens Central magazine.

I will also award 5 secondary prizes - a copy of my new book 'Canadian Lawn & Garden Secrets'.

Deadline for entry is June 15, 2012


 St. Marys Horticultural Society
 15th Annual Garden Fair

St. Marys Saturday, June 2, 2012

8:30am - 1:00pm

Location: Milt Dunnell Field (The Flats)

* Unique and new issue perennials
* Shade and drought tolerant plants
* Lush hanging baskets
* Herbs, grasses, succulents, alpines
* All kinds of annuals, vegetables
* Water plants
* Unique bird houses
* Decorative garden accessories
* Wrought iron and metal artwork
* Heritage Tomatoes - 13 varieties - grown by St. Marys Horticultural Society Members
* Refreshments available


Contact: Janice Maciver
Phone: 519-393-5579


 Food Forests

Everdale Saturday, June 2

10 am - 4 pm

Location: Everdale Organic Farm, Hillsburgh, ON
Cost: $85

This workshop will introduce you to the concept of food forests. Food forests are a new way of growing food that has the potential to solve many of the farming and food related ecological problems we currently face. Food forests are human-designed multi-species cropping systems that mimic natural ecosystems. Like natural ecosystems they are energy-efficient, self-sustaining, and regenerative. The workshop is multi-dimensional. It combines theory and practice so come prepared to get your hands dirty and have some fun in Everdale's fields and gardens.

More info and registration 

 CPA Cabbagetown Garden Tour
 Hidden Gardens and Private Spaces

Cabbagetown Garden Tour Sunday, June 3 from 10:00am to 3:00pm

This self-guided tour through the streets of the Cabbagetown Heritage Conservation District of downtown Toronto brings visitors along quiet back lanes or tree-lined streets to hidden alcoves of greenery.

For tickets and more info 

 LEAF's Annual Fundraiser
 Night of the Forest

LEAF Thursday, June 7
7:00pm - 11:00pm

Tickets: $35 advance / $40 door

Location: The Roundhouse - Steam Whistle Brewery
255 Bremner Blvd, Toronto

Join LEAF at the beautiful Steam Whistle Roundhouse as they gather with friends, supporters and champions of the urban forest to celebrate our greatest shared resource. The trees could use a drink, and so could you!

For more info 

 More Fantastic Learning Opportunities

Wednesday, June 20
9 am - 12 pm
Location: Everdale Organic Farm, Hillsburgh, ON
Cost: $45
Info and registration:

Discover the fascinating world of bees and apiculture. Take a tour of Everdale's hives and see the colonies firsthand. Learn the roles and responsibilities of the queen, drones, house bees and foragers. We'll also discuss the parts of the hive and the environmental issues that we are facing as a society today.

Organic Magic with Worms
Wednesday, June 20
7:30 pm
Location: Mississauga Seniors Centre, 1389 Cawthra Rd., Mississauga
A fun and entertaining evening featuring Cathy of Cathy's Crawly Composters. Learn all about worms and vermicomposting - a viable solution to your organic waste.

Organic Magic with Worms
Thursday, June 21
7 - 9 pm
Location: The Big Carrot, 348 Danforth Ave., Toronto, Room 212

A fun and entertaining evening featuring Cathy of Cathy's Crawly Composters. Learn all about worms and vermicomposting - a viable solution to your organic waste.

For more info 

 More Garden Tours in the GTA

Garden Tour Niagara-on-the-Lake Shaw Garden Tour
Date: Saturday, June 9, 2012
10am to 4pm
Cost: $20
More info: call the Shaw Festival Box Office 1-800-511-7429

Hort Societies of Parkdale & Toronto Garden Tour
Date: Sunday, June 10
10am to 4pm
Cost: $18
More info:

Credit Valley Horticultural Society Garden Tour
Date: Saturday, June 16, 2012
10am to 4pm
Cost: $12 in advance, $15 on June 16
More info:

Magical Gardens of Leaside Tour
Date: Saturday, June 23, 2012
11am to 4pm
Cost: $10
More info:

Cloverleaf Garden Tour
Date: Sunday, June 24, 2012
10am to 4pm
Cost: $15
More info:

Bowmanville Hort Society & Community Care Durham-Clarington Summer Glory Garden Tour
Date: Saturday, August 11, 2012
9am to 4pm
Cost: $20
More info: call 905-623-2261