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

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Roots of Our Obsession

As we witness the slow melt of winter and the even slower awakening of spring, I am finishing up my off-season garden reading with a winner. Soon the seeds that I ordered will arrive and I will be sowing them in my new greenhouse: no time for much recreational reading.

This week I read a great book about our obsession with gardening. I don't mean to suggest that everyone who reads this newsletter is obsessed with gardening, but you might be shocked at how many of us are. And if you are not one of them it is instructive to know a few things about your friends and acquaintances that are.


Mark's Garden 'The Roots of My Obsession' is a written compilation by 30 gardening big wigs from around the world, mostly the U.S. and Britain, who wax eloquently about how they became gardeners and why they carry on. Each of them was asked to answer the question, "Why do you garden?" The book offers 30 distinctly different answers.

I found that their stories helped to shed light on my own gardening experience. In some cases they revealed some truths about gardening that had not occurred to me before. Reflection on the subject helps me understand myself and some of the crazy people that I surround myself with.

Some people see the activity of gardening as merely physical, which explains why not everyone is bitten by the gardening bug when they experience their first garden success. I live in hope that these people will come to realise that it is not the stretching and wracking of ones body while in the garden that provides the ultimate benefit but the journey to no where in particular. Like the health club member who fights for the parking spot nearest the door, one hopes that they will one day get the point of it all and park as far away as possible. Or walk there.


 Solves My Shopping Problem

Roots of My Obsession One of the contributors, Amy Stewart, explains that she gardens, "To find a place to put the plants I've bought." she explains, "It is the second phase to shopping".

Now I have worked in retail gardening circles all of my life. I can name the top 5 independent retail garden centres in the country and I know each of the owners by name. All of them would describe Amy as their dream customer.

There are many very quotable characters in this book. Here is a small sample:
"I don't garden of my own free will. I am held hostage." Tovah Martin

"A garden is made up of a thousand small interventions, but each small act is a defence [defiance even] against a world without anchor or safe harbours." Anna Povard

"I am a doubtful gardener with a good memory. What I mean to say is that my memory is good within the parameters of my passion." Daniel Hinkley

Should you happen to belong to the club of non-gardeners the last quote will help you understand those of us who are obsessed with it. Consider the word 'passion' and remember that, while every gardener has it, every one of us has our own story.

The Roots of My Obesssion
Thirty Great Gardeners Reveal Why They Garden.
By Thomas C.Cooper
Timber Press $14.95
ISBN # 978 1 60469 271 6 or click here


 Windsor Area Readers - take note!

Windsor Star I have big news for my newsletter readers in the Windsor, Ontario area. The Windsor Star newspaper will carry my weekly gardening/environment column starting next week. Look for it each Saturday and feel free to comment by connecting with me either through my facebook fan page or through and hit the 'Ask Mark' button. I am really excited to be a part of the #1 newspaper in the Windsor area.

[That makes two 'Windsor' papers that carry my column, including the Hants Journal in Windsor, Nova Scotia!]


 Canada Blooms

Canada Blooms 2012 Oriole Landscaping If you don't live within driving distance of Toronto, I urge you to consider flying in for this event. Many people do. Canada Blooms is the premier [read: largest/best] event of its kind in North America.

Last year over 200,000 people visited the 10 day festival and the adjoining 'National Home Show' at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place. Friday, March 15th through Sunday, March 24th.

No need for me to go on about it too much here as they have a great website that lays out all of the details of the big event. Be sure to visit this site before you go to help you plan out your day or 'days' there. Go to

I will draw your attention to a couple of 'Blooms events that I am involved in:

- Denis Flanagan, the affable, laughable character who is everyone's friend will join me on the main stage [Unilock Celebrity Stage] on Friday the 15th, Saturday the 16th and Tuesday the 19th at 11 a.m. Join us as we help you plan your day with an overview of the 6 acre event.

- Daughter Heather and I speak Friday, March 15th at 1 p.m. in the Grey Power lecture hall. We will reveal our thoughts on garden design as we take you on a journey Through the Garden Gate in Forest Hill, Toronto and through some wonderful gardens of Boston.

Based on our garden travels together, Heather [Landscape Architect grad] and her Dad [gardening guy] offer differing opinions on garden design and what meant the most to each of us as we toured some fabulous gardens.

Please carve some time out of your busy schedule for an early spring at Canada Blooms.

Please keep reading and be sure to join me at one or several of the events that I plan to be attending this month.

Have a great March!

Keep Your Knees Dirty,

p.s. Look for the fresh, new look to my weekly blog at My editor, Marette Sharp, has vetted your suggestions for topics and we are tackling them with a vengeance. Pertinent stuff lies in wait for you in my blog.

p.s.s. for a chance to win free tickets to Canada Blooms be sure to 'Like' my facebook fan page.


 Mark's Choice Product of the Month
 Bypass Pruner Set

Bypass Pruner Set I have been looking for the perfect pair of hand pruners for years and finally decided to design them myself.

To reduce wrist fatigue I had the blade coated in Teflon and incorporated a double hinge mechanism that reduces the amount of effort required to cut through green wood by 30%.

To keep an edge on the blade for as long as possible I used a high-quality, high carbon steel and included a small hand held sharpener that fits in your pocket.

To prevent jamming under heavy use I included an oil reserve in the tip of the sharpener.

And to keep the price competitive I gave the rights of this fine Mark's Choice product to my friends at Home Hardware. $25 buys you a wonderfully fine pair of hand pruners - available only at Home Hardware.
Item #5067-220

Check out the Survey below for your chance to win a Mark's Choice Bypass Pruner Set.


 Where is Mark this Spring

Where's Mark * Friday, March 1, 2013
Markham Spring Home Show
I speak at 4:00pm on Friday. The Home Show runs Friday through Sunday.

* Saturday, March 2, 2013
I am the key note speaker in Windsor NS at the Urban Tree Conference

* March 15 to 24, 2013
Canada Blooms
Friday, Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday at 11:00am Denis Flanagan and I open the largest garden festival in Canada with an overview of the 6 acre event from the main stage.

Friday, March 15th at 1:00pm 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.

* Saturday, March 30, 2013
Niagara Lifestyle Home Show

To view my full schedule 

 A Chance to Win a Pair of Mark's Favourite Hand Pruners!

Survey I am currently using many media outlets to provide you with information: Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Podcast, E-Newsletter, Canada AM, Newspapers, radio.

I would like to know which of these you find most helpful or informative. Please take 5 minutes to complete this short survey.

I will be selecting 4 survey participants to receive a prize (Mark's Choice Bypass Pruner kit, featured earlier in this newsletter).

Only one entry per person.

Take the survey 

 Ode to My Garden
 By Mary-Ann Gibson

By Mary-Ann Gibson Whimsy and Wild Abandon
in my garden grow.
Yellows, red, purples, blues,
Nothing in a row.

Whimsy and wild abandon,
Growing wild and free.
Mallows, Pinks, Violets, Sage,
Happy just to be.

Whimsy and Wild Abandon,
No toil, care or goal.
Escape of generations,
Echo in my Soul.

~ Mary-Ann Gibson


 Kids In The Woods Initiative

Kids in the Woods K.I.W.I. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reconnecting children and youth to nature through adventure-play and mentoring in wild and natural outdoor spaces. K.I.W.I. is located in Rouge Park, Toronto

The KIWI vision is that natural & wild outdoor environments should be accessible to an enjoyed by all children and youth. That all children and youth, through exposure to natural & wild spaces will grow up with a personal and intimate connection to nature and will become adults who will continue to enjoy nature and pass that love and interest on to the children in their lives.

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 

 Free Tree Planting Workshop

Tree Planting Workshop Trees Ontario and local planting agencies are hosting a free tree planting workshop. Join us to learn more about tree planting subsidies, financial incentives, climate change adaptation, forest management and technical tree planting expertise.

Space is limited and pre-registration is encouraged.

Date: March 5, 2013
Time: 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Location: Scugog Community Centre. 1655 Reach Street, Port Perry, ON

To register 

 Canada Blooms

Canada Blooms Dates: March 15 to 24, 2013
Location: Direct Energy Centre. 100 Princes' Blvd, Exhibition Place, Toronto

Canada Blooms is a not-for-profit organization that gives back to the community throughout the year by funding community garden projects around Ontario. Canada Blooms is also dedicated to providing the community with horticulture expertise, education and resources on an ongoing basis.

For more information 

 Newmarket Horticultural Society

Newmarket Date: March 19, 2013
Time: 8pm
Location: The Newmarket Community Centre at 200 Doug Duncan Drive, Newmarket

Guest Speaker: David Naylor. "The Wonderful World of Cacti and Other Succulents"
Admission: $2/guest. Annual membership fees: $15/single; $20/couple

For more information 

 Nepean Horticultural Society

Nepean Date: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Time: 7:30pm
Location: City View United Church, 6 Epworth Avenue, Nepean

Interested in Gardening? Come and Join Us! The Nepean Horticultural Society.

Guest Speaker: Mary Reid, from Green Thumb Garden Centre
Topic: Down to Earth in the Garden

Everyone welcome. Non-member $4.00. Light refreshments.
Information, 613-224-7184


 Bobcaygeon & District Horticultural Society

Bobcaygeon Date: March 21, 2013
Time: 7pm
Topic: Rock Gardening
Speaker: Linda McLeod
Location: Knox Presbyterian Church Hall


 6th Annual Gardening Saturday

Gardens Manitoba Manitoba's largest gardening tradeshow and educational symposium

Date: March 23, 2013
Time: 9am to 4pm
Location: Canadian Mennonite University, 500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, Manitoba

Gardening Saturday connects gardeners to the experts, products and services in Manitoba's vital horticultural community.
Admission: $6

For more information 

 Heritage Tree
 Preserving Our Natural Roots

Edith George Date: Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Time: 7:00pm
Location: Tollkeeper's Cottage Museum, Toronto
Speaker: Edith George
Entrance fee: $10


 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 

 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 15 th 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 information.