Mark Cullen e-newsletter
January 2013 
 Gardening with Mark
In This Issue:
Where to Find Mark
Mark's Gardening Connections

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Hello 2013!

Here we are, the Christmas celebrations neatly behind us and a new year staring us in the face. I am excited about this juncture for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the growing number of readers to this newsletter and followers on my Facebook fan page .

You have voted by your actions. By signing up in record numbers for the various sources of gardening information that I offer by way of the internet you have indicated that I am on the right track. I will keep doing what I am doing until you tell me that it is a bad idea.

Also exciting is the addition of many new products in the Mark's Choice line up of products, exclusive to Home Hardware. As we enter the 10th year of our relationship I am more confident than ever that we can meet and exceed the expectations of Canadian gardeners. See below for more details.

I might add that Canadian gardeners are becoming more diverse and sophisticated than ever. Understanding how to make the gardening experience a pleasant and satisfying one is a challenge that I enjoy in the extreme. Our search for new products and innovative ideas to meet this challenge is taking us to wonderful and exciting places. I thank you for creating this opportunity. Without your demand for new and better gardening products I would be out of a job.

Allow me to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Happy New Year.

 Golfgreen Lawn Fertilizer

Golfgreen There is a new formula of Golfgreen lawn fertilizer that we are introducing this year: look for it. You will see us advertising it on television. It is an enhanced formula that is guaranteed to green up your lawn faster, produce a deeper green and last longer than any other consumer brand. More details to follow.

Speaking of television advertising, there is a campaign being hatched as we speak that will knock your gardening socks off. More on that later, but suffice it to say that the Mark's Choice product development team has come up with a unique item that will be useful to most everyone reading this newsletter.


 Mark Cullen Approved Garden Centres

MCA program We added 5 new Mark Cullen Approved Garden Centres to our line up in 2012:

Three Hills Home Hardware Building Centre in Three Hills Alberta
Napanee Home Hardware Building Centre in Napanee Ontario
Iroquois Falls Home Hardware Building Centre in Iroquois Falls Ontario
Invermere Home Hardware Building Centre in Invermere British Columbia
Sissiboo Home Hardware in Weymouth Nova Scotia.

If you live anywhere near them, please drop by and see what surprises they have in store for you. Click here to see the complete list of Mark Cullen Approved Home Hardware Garden Centres.


 What a Plant Knows

What a Plant Knows Coming up in January is a two-part newspaper column on 'What a Plant Knows' based on the book by the same title (by Daniel Chamovitz). I encourage you to look them over January 12th and 19th by visiting my website at and clicking on the hot link to the Toronto Star.

Announcing The Pioneer. The most recent addition to the syndication of my newspaper column is located in the Columbia Valley, Invermere. This is my first newspaper column in British Columbia and I hope that it will be one of many more to come. Go to for details.

If you live anywhere in Canada where my weekly newspaper column is not carried, please let us know. We will follow up with the editor of your local paper to enquire if they would be interested in carrying the column.

Finally, below is a rundown of the new Mark's Choice product for 2013. Give it a read and watch for the spring edition of Home At Home magazine [available this Spring at your local Home Hardware location]. There is a wonderful 8 page 'pull out' section in it. We have worked very hard to create something useful and meaningful that will enhance your gardening experience and help you to achieve greater success in your garden.


 Things To Do This Month

To Do * Repot over grown indoor tropical plants.
* Prune apple trees [I did this time last year!]
* Water the potted perennials that you left in your garage over winter.
* Check your dahlias and other summer flowering bulbs that are in storage in your basement or cold cellar. Compost the rotten ones.
* Start petunia and impatiens seeds in January.
* Review seed catalogues: get inspired and order early!
* Read. There are too many great gardening magazines and books to list here but be sure to check out what is out there and take your time to review your favourites.
* Dream. January, more than any other month, is the month that gardeners can dream of the great garden you are going to have this coming season!


 New Mark's Choice Products for 2013

What's new The Mark's Choice brand of gardening equipment and tools has developed over 8 years in an effort to meet the demands for high quality, competitively priced products for you - the Canadian home gardener.

Every product has been 'field tested' by me personally (or I will not put my name on it!) and wherever possible we insist on sourcing our products right here in Canada.
I am proud of Mark's Choice and the many people on the Home Hardware and Mark's Choice product development team who have succeeded in putting together a line of more than 150 products.

The lineup of new products for 2013 under the Mark's Choice brand will include some very exciting additions (look for them late this winter and early this spring):

Potato Planting Bag
- Ideal for growing potatoes anywhere on a patio, deck or balcony
- Simply fill with soil, plant, repeat in layers, water and harvest
- Reusable
- Item# 5090-690

Premium Dahlia Flower Bulbs
- Assorted 5 paks containing either giant painted or fimbriata varieties
- Selected for outstanding garden performance. Extra large tubers.
- Item # 5029-213

Peony Flower Bulbs
- Assorted 2 paks containing a patio mix or a miniature double blossom mix
- Selected for superior garden performance. I love double flowering peonies as cut flowers - I strongly encourage you to plant some out in a sunny position in well drained soil.
- Inexpensive, very long lived [up to 100 years] - the focus of the late spring garden.
- Item# 5029-214

Container Mat Bulbs
- Exclusive to Mark's Choice and a first for this product to be sold outside of Europe
- Bulbs are pre-arranged in biodegradable 'egg' trays
- Simply place the tray in a planter or in the garden, cover with soil, water, and in a few weeks you have a perfectly arranged flower feature
- Item# 5029-212

Professional 3" Folding Gardeners Garden Knife
- It took us 4 years to find the perfect gardening knife: extra hard steel that holds an edge, easy to carry and access in leather pouch, easy to open even with gardening gloves on
- Professional quality stainless steel gardening knife at a very affordable price
- Complete with carry pouch
- Item# 7680-131

Clay Twine Pot with Scissors
- For the gardener that has (almost) everything
- A unique and useful item that will ensure that you have string where and when you need it. In the tool shed, the garage, the basement of potting shed. One hand use for multi tasters.
- Item# 5462-211

Self-Watering Patio Planter
- Perfect for the small space gardener: an intensive growing unit that will ensure overwhelming productivity in less than 6 square feet.
- A mini-garden for the balcony, deck or patio
- Grow fresh vegetables, herbs or flowers in any sunny location
- Hidden reservoir prevents over watering, provides proper drainage
- Great for people who enjoy a brief vacation from watering during summer
- Made in Canada
- Item# 5055-615
- Also available, a planter stand. To elevate the Mark's Choice Patio Planter. Item# 5092-760

Burlap Gardening Tote
- A British gardening idea that we perfected.
- Ideal for many gardening tasks: weeding, planting, harvesting
- Outer pockets hold garden tools, seeds, sun screen, cell phone, water bottle, etc.
- Adjustable strap for carrying
- Designed for use with a bucket, for rigidity and water tightness or without a bucket for dry items
- Item# 5011-800

First Rate Wall Mount Hose Reel
- Made by the same people who produce my 'World's Best Rake'. They do not make junk!
- This will be the last hose reel that you will ever buy: chances are you will want to take it with you when you sell your house.
- Low profile, heavy duty metal
- Swivels to either parallel or perpendicular positions
- The very best quality on the market
- Holds 75' of 5/8" hose
- Item# 5042-293

Ladies' Gardening Gloves (model 1)
We worked hard at improving one of the Mark's Choice best sellers and came up with:
- Synthetic leather with silicone dotted palm for extra wear and grip
- Neoprene flex joints with rubberized fingertips [similar to the Mark's Choice Men's gloves that have been such a hit]
- Flexible spandex and mesh back keep hands cool and comfortable
- Snug fitting elastic wrist with Velcro closure keeps out dirt and debris
- Item# 5032-105, 106, 107

Ladies' Gardening Gloves (model 2)
Similar to the newly designed gloves above, but more 'fashion forward':
- Pigskin leather for strength and durability
- Spandex back for a comfortable fit
- Full leather index finger and hooded fingertips for added protection
- Elastic wrist keeps dirt and moisture out
- Item# 5032-307, 308, 309

Metal Speedy Weeder
- The best weed digger in the business just got better!
Regular users of the Mark's Choice speedy weeder will want to put this item on their 'most wanted' list of new garden tools.
- New improved version of the original Speedy Weeder
- All metal construction for strength and durability; just try to wear it out!
- Item# 5078-252

Many thanks for reading and for your valuable feedback.
A reminder that you can reach me at by clicking on 'Ask Mark' and I invite you to provide feedback on your experience with Mark's Choice products by clicking on 'Mark's Choice Product Feedback'

Keep your knees dirty [or, think about it anyway].



 Where is Mark

Long Pond Classic February 6 - Ontario Parks Association, Annual General Meeting
I will be the keynote speaker on the subject of the importance of urban trees.

February 9 - 2nd Annual Long Pond Classic
Join me for a weekend of great fun and celebration of Canada's greatest game. We play hockey on Long Pond, where the original game was played. Grand dinner and auction with me as auctioneer, on the Saturday night. Click on the link for all of the exciting details.

March 1 - Markham Spring Home Show
I speak at 4:00pm on Friday, March 1st. Hope to see you there.

March 15 to 24 - Canada Blooms Friday, Saturday, Monday and Wednesday at 11 a.m. - Denis Flanagan and I open the largest garden festival in Canada with an overview of the 6 acre event from the main stage.
Friday the 15th at 1:00 p.m. daughter Heather and I use pictures from various garden tours that we have taken together in 2012 to illustrate our points of view about great garden design. Be warned! We do not always agree.

March 30 - St. Catharines Home Show

April 6 - Burlington Home Show

April 20 - Mississauga Home Show

April 27 - Vermilion Home & Garden Show


 Amaryllis Care

amaryllis Were you one of the lucky people who purchased a Mark's Choice Amaryllis kit before they sold out? I heard from a number of gardeners who were disappointed that they couldn't purchase a kit at the end of December. I apologize for the disappointment. I'm told that we sold out in early December. Next year I will remind you to visit your local Home Hardware store in November to shop early.

If you are growing an Amaryllis at home you may be wondering what to do with the plant once it is finished blooming. Once the amaryllis has finished blooming it requires some attention.
Cut the flower stalk back to about 2" in height. Allow the leaves to continue to grow and water when the soil feels dry. This will allow the leaves to produce energy which the bulb will store for future blooms.

In the spring you can plant your Amaryllis in the garden. Find a location with partial shade and water during periods of drought. Fertilize regularly with a high phosphate liquid plant fertilizer.

In late September bring the plant indoors and cut back the foliage. Dry the bulb for 2 weeks at 65 degrees F and then store for about 10 weeks in a cool, dry, dark place. At the end of this storage period you will need to repot your Amaryllis bulb in fresh potting mix and start the cycle again.

This year I am growing 3 different amaryllis kits to make sure the Mark's Choice kit is the best value and quality. Check out the photos on my Facebook page. I am posting weekly updates.


 A Story from a Mark's Choice gardener

squirrel Linda D. purchased the Mark's Choice Squirrel Resistant bird feeder from her local Home Hardware in Blind River, Ontario.
Linda loves to feed the birds all year long. She has Bluejays, Pine Grossbeaks, Pine Siskins, Black-capped Chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers, a couple Pileated Woodpeckers, Finches, Grackles, Sparrows, Nuthatches, Hummingbirds, Buntings, and Northern Cardinals.

After hanging her new Mark's Choice squirrel resistant bird feeder, Linda noticed a very strange "bird of prey". Linda considered returning her squirrel-resistant feeder, but she enjoys watching this guy "squeeze" himself into the cage.

Thanks for sharing Linda. I always enjoy hearing from fellow Mark's Choice gardeners.

Note: while we designed this feeder to prevent access by most squirrels, the little red squirrel outwitted us!


 The Organic Master Gardener Program

Gaia College The Organic Master Gardener program in Stony Plain is Alberta's first and most extensive organic master gardener program. Under the umbrella of the Multicultural Heritage Centre, the program is geared to adult learners of all levels of gardening experience.

From those absolutely brand new to the soil, to those who have years of experience in their own yards, or for those who want an addition to a resume, the OMG program in Stony Plain is an excellent means to enjoyable learning.

Students study about three times a month from February to November each year.
The first class for 2013 will be on Wednesday, February 6, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Half of the 25 (3 hour) courses are the Gaia College curriculum and the other half are locally developed courses for our soils and growing region. Students receive no tests or exams, but are asked to compile a portfolio of work throughout the year. For a detailed syllabus, go to , go to the Agriculture tab and pull down to Organic Master Gardener to see the 2013 brochure. Or contact [email protected] Registration for the 2013 program is currently underway.


 Submit Your Local Event Listings

Events 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.


 Applewood Garden Club
 Annual Special Evening

Applewood Date: January 17, 2013
Time: 7:00pm
Location: Lakeview Golf Course. 1190 Dixie Road, Mississauga

The Applewood Garden Club is hosting a special fundraiser evening with Frankie Flowers. Proceeds will be going to Heart House Hospice located in Mississauga.
In his talk, 'The Weird and Wacky World of Gardening', Frankie explores the folklore, fables and weird gardening practices of yesterday and today.

Ticket price: $15.

For tickets and information 

 Nepean Horticultural Society

Nepean horticultural society Date: January 17, 2013
Time: 7:30pm
Location: City View United Church, 6 Epworth Ave., Nepean

Interested in Gardening? Come an Join Us!
The Nepean Horticultural Society.
Guest Speaker: Donna Christie, Certified SFG teacher.
Topic: Everything you ever wanted to know about houseplants.

Everyone welcome. Non-members $4.00.
Information 613-224-7184


 Roselands Horticultural Society

Edith George Presenter: Edith George, Advisor to the Ontario Urban Forest Council
Topic: "Heritage Tree - Preserving Our Natural Roots"
Date: Monday, January 28, 2013
Time: 7:30pm
Location: Church of the Good Shepherd. 1149 Weston Road, Toronto


 East York Horticultural Society

Edith George Presenter: Edith George, Advisor to the Ontario Urban Forest Council
Topic: "Heritage Tree - Preserving Our Natural Roots"
Date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Time: 7:00pm
Location: The S. Walter Stewart Library. 170 Memorial Park Avenue


 Southern Ontario Orchid Society
 Orchid Show

orchid Date: February 16 and 17, 2013
Time: 11am to 5pm
Location: Toronto Botanical Garden. 777 Lawrence Avenue East

February is a dreary month and everyone is yearning for the living colours of plants. At the orchid show your senses will be stimulated and revived by thousands of orchid blossoms. Come enjoy the gorgeous as well as the bizarre world of archids.

Admission: $12 (includes HST - cash only) Children 12 and under - FREE

For more information 

 Stratford Garden Festival

Stratford Garden Festival Dates: February 28 - March 3, 2013
Location: Stratford Rotary Complex

Nine beautiful display gardens interpreting the theme "Reflections". Marketplace showcasing the latest "must haves" for the gardener and ongoing Speaker Series featuring Ontario's top garden gurus. A fundraiser to support the work of The Lung Association.

For more information 

 Canada Blooms 2013 Festival

Canada Blooms Dates: Friday, March 15 to Sunday, March 24, 2013
Hours: 10 am to 9 pm (Monday to Saturday); 10 am to 6 pm (Sunday, March 17), 10 am to 5 pm (Sunday, March 24)
Location: The Direct Energy Centre, Toronto
Tickets: Available online at

The theme of this year's festival is "The Magic of Spring". Spring is a time of rejuvenation, regeneration, romanticism, growth, hope, gardening, beauty, colour and a revival of the soul for Canadians. A special time of year when many flowering plants bloom in a long succession beginning even is snow is still on the ground.

Canada Blooms proudly presents its 2013 theme "The Magic of Spring" to celebrate this special time of year.

For more information 

 Peterborough Garden Show

Peterborough Garden Show Date: April 12-14, 2013
Location: Evinrude Centre, Peterborough, ON
Admission: $6 per day (children 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult)

Come and see the latest products, over 150 knowledgeable vendors and exhibitors to meet your garden and landscaping needs. Don't miss featured speakers and demonstrations, floral design competition, children's garden, and much more.

For more information 

 Earth: A Celebration 2013
 The Riverwood Conservancy - Fundraising Gala

Riverwood Conservancy Date: Friday, April 26, 2013

12th annual Earth: A Celebration. This evening of fun and philanthropy supports Environmental Education programs as well as TRC's Enabling Garden for special needs participants.

For more information