Mark Cullen e-newsletter
September 2012 
 Gardening with Mark
In This Issue:
Where to Find Mark
Mark's Gardening Connections

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Anticipation is in the air. As I write my message to you we are only two days away from the marriage of our daughter Heather (she is one of 4 kids and our first to get married). The ceremony is taking place in our 1860's barn and the reception under a 'big top' on the north side of the house. Everything is being done to ensure that things will run smoothly and not be a circus.


Wedding prep I feel sure that this will be the special day that we have planned. The weather is going to be perfect (that is half of it right there, isn't it?) and we have a cadre of wonderfully committed volunteers. Besides, you would be hard pressed to find anyone as well organised as this daughter. We all have our lists, mine is titled, 'Dad, Grounds'.

That pretty much sums it up as I am responsible for making sure that my '10 acre garden' is ship shape and that we have enough coffee (among other beverages).

I would be lying if I told you that we have whipped this together in a week or two. As my right and left hand people Marette and Rudy will tell you, this event has been the focus of all of our summer activities on the property. Even the tomatoes have been timed to ripen at their peak on the special day.



Hydrangea wreath There is a mixture of emotions that flow through me as we get closer to the celebration. On the one hand I am losing a wonderful daughter, on the other; she has been living with the groom for a couple of years so I guess I am not losing anything at all. I am gaining a son in law. In fact a few months ago his work brought them back to the city vs. the 1 � hour drive to their previous place. Now they are only 20 minutes from our home. Hey, thanks Martin, for bringing our daughter back!

Am I going to cry when I walk her down the aisle? What does a father of the bride say in his 5 minute speech? I am told not to give advice. That the bride is the focus of the day (so no one is going to hear the Dad any way, unless he makes a complete fool of himself).

Better to be remembered for just hanging around and being supportive.

Yea, that will be me. For a day.

The next day I can revert to bossing everyone around.

To our new extended family, welcome to our domestic abode. We moved into this garden 6 years ago with a dream that we would be able to share in this way, some day.

The day is finally here.


 Things To Do in September

Golfgreen 1. Dig and divide. Perennials that flowered in early to mid summer can be dug up and divided. Replant the divisions around your yard in the appropriate places or give them away if you have run out of space. A short list of candidates are: peonies (mid September is the BEST time to divide mature plants), hostas, monarda, daylilies, rudbeckia and veronica. Be sure that the soil is moist when you dig up the mature perennial. See the segment that Jeff and I created for CTV Canada AM on Wednesday, September 5 at 8:45 a.m. or see it streamed at

2. Plant spring flowering bulbs. The boat has arrived from The Netherlands and I recommend that you check out the selection at your favourite retailer for the best selection of the season. Fact is, they don't replenish the 'hard to find' varieties of tulips, daffodils, narcissus, hyacinths and the like later in the fall season. Even if you just store your new purchases in your garage for a few weeks, at least you have the varieties and colours that you really want.

3. Speaking of spring flowering bulbs, check out the Mark's Choice bulb collections at Home Hardware. We introduced a new line of winter hardy bulbs last year and we sold out in most stores long before the end of the season. The collections include 'Naturalizing' bulbs that will grow and improve year over year, a 'Canadian' collection that celebrates our great country with names like Vancouver, Calgary, Mountie and Toronto. All great garden performers. There is a 'Fragrance' collection and a Deer & Rabbit Resistant collection. All great value for the money.

4. Compost: a. empty b. fill. Not to oversimplify this, but your garden needs the natural goodness that is contained in your backyard composting unit and your now-empty composting unit will provide a valuable service this autumn when the leaves fall and you yank your spent annuals and veggie plants out of the ground. More on this in October newsletter.

5. Start a new lawn or thicken an established one. This is the best time of year to sow fresh grass seed. Germination is sure and quick with the cool evening temperatures, increased rainfall and the reliably heavy morning dew. Spread Mark's Choice Lawn soil (item #5053-686) about 2 cm thick before broadcasting Golfgreen grass seed over the area. Rake smooth, step on it to get the seed/soil in firm contact and water well and frequently. Stand back and marvel at how right this advice is and how smart you are.

6. Fertilize your Lawn with Golfgreen Fall Lawn Fertilizer. This is the most important application of the year as you prepare your lawn for the winter and encourage it to bounce back come spring.

Be sure to harvest your veggies and fruit as they become ripe, plant mums, kale and asters for additional fall colour and plant most anything as 'fall is for planting'.


 Announcing Ottawa Citizen!

Ottawa Citizen I am very pleased to announce that I am now a regular columnist with the Ottawa Citizen newspaper. If you live in the National Capital Region you know that this newspaper is the leader in the market. I will be contributing every second week on Wednesday. Please look for it and give me your feedback on my website at 'Ask Mark'. As a newsletter subscriber you can access me this way any time 24/7.


 Sorry new Subscribers!

Subscribe A glitch in our subscription function at was hoarding new subscriptions to my monthly newsletter for over 2 months. Thanks to the diligence of some loyal fans we were alerted to the problem and worked it out with our server. Suffice it to say, we have it fixed. Sorry for the delay, if you are among the 2,000 people who have been waiting patiently for this newsletter.

A reminder that I will never fill up your inbox with overly frequent e mail messages. I promise that I will be in touch once a month only on the last week of the month, unless something so earth shattering comes along that I just can't wait to tell you about it.

I respect your privacy, your time and the trust that you put in me to provide you with honest and timely gardening advice.

I know my place, believe me. I am about to become a new father-in-lawn.



 Facebook and Twitter

Twitter Like to keep in touch?

If you enjoy communicating more than once a month I encourage you to visit my facebook fan page. I post there about once a day with something relevant and meaningful. Twitter also.


 Mark's Choice Feedback

Feedback One more reminder: If you purchase or have been given any Mark's Choice product (and there are over 80 of them) from Home Hardware, I would love to hear your reaction to it. Go to my website and click on the 'Mark's Choice feedback' link and give me your feedback: good or bad, I want to hear it. The Home Hardware product development team is always interested in hearing from you and we DO review each comment.

Thanks so much, have a great September in the garden!

Keep your knees dirty,



 Mark's Choice Product of the Month
 World's Best Rake

Rake Be prepared this fall. Buy a Mark's Choice leaf rake now before they sell out.

This rake has a 'memory' like no other rake on the market. The tines bend and spring back into place without kinking or breaking. It is light weight and indestructible. I use it for 'throwing' leaves and grass clippings across the lawn (rather than pushing them).

Shorten the time is takes to rake leaves from your lawn. Reduce the work. And remember: this rake is actually fun to use!

As with all Mark's Choice product, this one is sold exclusively at Home Hardware.

Home Hardware item# 5062-302


 Where is Mark this Fall

Mark September 17 - Green Jobs Forum

September 18 - Uxbridge Rotary, Uxbridge Legion

September 21 - International Plowing Match, Roseville Ontario

October 19 - Markham Fall Home Show


 Growing Garlic

Garlic Order garlic bulbs now to ensure they arrive in time for fall planting. Schedule your Fall garlic planting to allow the bulbs at least 3 weeks in the ground before the ground freezes. This gives the bulbs a chance to send out roots but not enough time to send out top growth above the soil surface.

The soil should be warm to encourage root growth.
I like to break garlic bulbs into individual cloves. Each clove is planted 2" (5 cm) deep with the flat end down. Allow 12" (30 cm) between rows and 3" (8 cm) between bulbs.

Plant garlic in a location which receives full sun. Soil should be well-drained. I spread a generous layer of organic compost over the planting bed before planting the bulbs.

Next Spring: Once plants emerge, add mulch between the rows to discourage weeds. Cut off the flower stalk to conserve energy and harvest to dry in indirect sunshine the third week of July.


 Campaign to stop the spread of invasive species

Grow Me Instead A new campaign to educate consumers about the invasive nature of some plants sold at garden centres in now underway in Ontario. The free information provided is useful for all Canadians who are interested in avoiding the mistakes of planting invasives.

The Ontario Invasive Plant Council (OIPC) and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) launched the Grow Me Instead Nursery Outreach Project with the partnership and support of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Canada/Ontario Invasive Species Centre.

"Invasive species cost Ontario's economy millions of dollars each year," said Michael Gravelle, Minister of Natural Resources. "This partnership is a great example of how we can all help conserve our province's biodiversity and provide a healthy, sustainable environment and a stronger economy for Ontarians."

OIPC and partners are working with garden centres to educate consumers. The Grow Me Instead guide highlights native and non-native plants that do well in gardens and are non-invasive.

The guide can be found at participating Ontario garden centres or downloaded at

~Source: Canadian Garden Centre & Nursery magazine, August/September 2012


 Carrot Photo Contest

Carrot contest It's harvest time and the veggie garden is a great source for fascinating surprises.

Send us your interesting carrot photos. "Keep it PG13"

I will post all of your photos on my Facebook page & select three entries to receive a signed copy of my book, Canadian Lawn & Garden Secrets.

Email your photos to [email protected] with the subject line: carrot contest.


 Facebook Contest
 Daily Prizes

Lawn & Garden Secrets Every day in the month of September I will select a winner from my Facebook page to receive a signed copy of my book, Canadian Lawn & Garden Secrets.

'Like' my Facebook page for your chance to win.


 Submit Your Local Event Listings

Event calendar Do you have a 'gardening' event you would like to promote?

I would be happy to include your event listing in my monthly E-newsletter.

Deadline for submitting event info is the 15th of the month prior to newsletter publication.

Send your event info to [email protected] with the subject line 'Newsletter Event listing'. Along with a brief description of the event, please include a web address for further info.


 Save the skin you're in
 Take Care. Take Cover

Take Care Sun's rays are the strongest between 11:00am and 4:00pm.

Up to 80% of the sun's rays can penetrate light clouds, mist and fog.

Protect yourself:

* Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, ears and neck
* Wear sunglasses that offer ultraviolet radiation (UVR) protection
* Cover-up - wear a loose fitting long-sleeved top and long pants made of tightly woven fabric
* 15-30 minutes before going out, apply sunscreen and lip balm with an SPF of at least 30
* Carry your sunscreen and lip balm with you so you can reapply them every 2 hours or after heavy sweating
* Seek shade whenever possible



 University of Guelph Arboretum
 Auxiliary Plant Sale

Plant Sale Saturday, September 8, 2012

9:00am to 2:00pm

Where: The Arboretum, R.J. Hilton Centre, 382 College Avenue East, Guelph, ON

This year, a large selection of unique plants is available, including rare natives, such as blue ash, pawpaw and dwarf chinquapin oak, as well as some outstanding exotics, like the goldenrain tree and Siberian spindle tree. As always, you'll also find a diverse selection of native wildflowers, ferns, grasses and high-quality ornamental perennials.

The Arboretum plant sale is known for its extremely affordable prices with people lining up from across the province for the chance to take home a unique plant. So, come early for the best selection! Check our website for a listing of the plants that will be available at the sale.

For further information 

 Canning Recipe Contest

Contest Preserving the bounty of Canada's many local harvests is the focus of a timely recipe contest, launched as part of the 75th Anniversary of Parks Canada PEI.

From now to September 14, 2012, folks are encouraged to share a favourite family canning or pickling recipes and the story that makes it special.

Each recipe submitted will receive a special recognition certificate to mark this heritage occasion and also be entered into a draw for one of ten home canning kits provided by one of the contest's supporters, Bernardin Canada. The prizes will be drawn at Green Gables on Saturday, September 29, 2012.

Your canning or pickling recipe can be submitted by visiting


 Leaside Garden Society
 Annual Show

Leaside Garden Society Saturday, September 15, 2012

1:00pm to 3:30pm

Where: Leaside Library. 165 McRae Drive

For more information 

 Alberta Regional Lily Society
 Lily Bulb Sale

Lily Bulb Sale Thursday, September 20, 2012

10am to 5pm

Where: Westmount Farmers Market. Westmount Shopping Centre. 111 Avenue & Groat Road, Edmonton

For more information 

 North American Native Plant Society
 Fall Tour

Fall tour Carolinian woods of SW Ontario

Saturday, September 22, 2012

7:30am to 7:30pm

For more information 

 National Tree Day

National Tree Day Wednesday, September 26, 2012

This will be the second year that Canada finally has its own official day to celebrate trees. Are you ready? Go to to find out how you can participate in this important day!

National Tree Day will serve as a celebration for all Canadians to appreciate the great benefits that trees provide us - clean air, wildlife habitat, reducing energy demand and connecting with nature.

For more information 

 From Field to Table

Historic Stewart Farm Thursday, September 27, 2012

7pm to 9pm

1 session $35

Where: Historic Stewart Farm. 13723 Crescent Road, Surrey, BC

Gather ideas for thanksgiving: explore a menu plan using local food to create a delicious meal, learn about and taste local wines, and inspire your dinner table decorating. Must pre-register at 604-592-6956.

For more information