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

Join our mailing list!

Matters of the Heart

The late Dr. David Livingstone, the famous explorer/missionary who discovered the head waters of the Nile River, became known for a lot of things. He was an enemy of slavery, a friend to native Africans, an adventurer, missionary and an extraordinary teacher.

When Dr. Livingstone died on May 1, 1873 in his beloved southern Africa his loyal attendants Chuna and Susi removed his heart and buried it under a sacred Mvula tree. Apparently Dr. Livingstone spoke so often and so openly about matters of the heart that his greatest friends believed that this was the appropriate thing to do, before shipping his body off to England for a British burial.

Livingstone's death is not the only matter of the heart that occurred in the month of May. My daughter Emma is returning home from London, U.K. after a 2 year 'work' experience over there. It seems that, in addition to 'work' she managed to meet a nice British guy and, well, fall in love [not easy for a Dad to say that, by the way]. An extension to her visa in the U.K. was not in the cards, so, home she comes. And her 'Beau' is left behind.

He says that he will follow her but he has some details to take care of. It is not an easy thing to do and hardly what he imagined was in the bargain when he fell in love with a Canadian girl a year and a half ago.

Thank goodness for Skype, Facebook, e mails, texts and cheap phone rates. Technology is extraordinary, no?


Becel Ride for Heart It is May, the biggest month for garden activity, notwithstanding the weather in your part of the country. As I rake out my mulch, crouch on bended knee to plant the many transplants that I have started in my greenhouse and as I sit on the porch contemplating the universe at the end of the day I will reflect on matters of the heart, for sure.

A couple of months ago daughter Emma asked me to join her on the Becel Ride for Heart in Toronto on Sunday June 2nd. There was no debate about her request: of course I would ride with her. And who would we ride on behalf of? Her grandfather on her mother's side, John G. Farintosh. He passed away 14 years ago from a massive stroke while shopping for a Valentine's card at the drug store [speaking of matters of the heart]. We will travel from Exhibition Place to the Don Valley Parkway, up to the top of it and back again. 25 kilometers in all. I am training for it now.

It is, of course, a fund raising effort [they don't close the Don Valley for no reason at all]. I am donating the first $1,000 so you could say that if I am successful in raising another $1,000 it will be matched. All of the money goes to the Heart and Stroke Foundation for research, education and treatment of people living with heart disease. Tax receipts are available.

What does this have to do with gardening?

Mary Keen, a columnist in The Garden Magazine in the U.K. said recently, "A garden, like a poem, clears a private space in your head where you can retreat. It isn't about complicated techniques or aspiring to what you see in magazines. It doesn't have to be perfect." That says it all then, your gardening experience this year is not about producing a better or more productive garden. Much more, it is about the dreams and aspirations that poetry can inspire. In this context it is more about matters of the heart than digging and weeding.

So we have the anniversary of the death of Dr. Livingstone, a trip home for a modern day adventurer and a fundraiser to help save lives and lengthen them. All within a month and two days.

Dream with me. It is May.

To make a donation to our ride, click here 

 Things To Do in Your Garden

Divide perennials Plant. It is hard to say when and what you should plant without explaining that frost plays a critical role. Frost-sensitive plants like tomatoes, petunias, geraniums and the like should not be planted out until the threat of frost is past. For most parts of Canada that is the 24th of May, which lands conveniently on a Friday this year. For zones 2, 3 and 4 I would suggest that planting a week later is not a bad idea.

For plants that are not frost-sensitive, like flowering shrubs, trees, perennials, roses and evergreens you can plant now. If, however, you purchase plants that are 'green house fresh' make sure that you harden them off by placing them out of doors for a few hours mid day and protecting them in the garage or indoors the balance of the day and evening. Lengthen the time that they are out of doors each day for about 2 weeks until they are well acclimatized to outdoor wind, sun and evening temperatures.

Dig and divide. Perennials that are overgrown are best dug up and divided this time of year. Use a spade, shovel or garden fork to dig up the whole clump and then slice the clump in half, then half again [like a pie]. Plant the divisions in the appropriate locations or give to the appropriate friends/family [preferably ones who like to garden].

Soil prep. 90% of your gardening success depends on it [I feel like I have said that before]. Add generous quantities of compost to your planting holes and/or garden. Give the roots of your new plants a happy place to grow and feed the soil with plenty of organic nutrition. I spread 2 cm of finished compost mixed with 30% sharp sand over my entire garden each spring.

Plant veggies from seed. As noted last month you can plant carrots, onions [I planted mine last night], peas, lettuce, mesclun mix, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower this time of year from seed. As my late friend Lois Hole [Alberta] said to me many times, 'Go for it early - get a better crop.'

Fertilize and seed your lawn. It was a cold, wet April everywhere across Canada. The lower main land of B.C. and Vancouver Island did get an early spring, but not so for the rest of us. If you have not applied Golfgreen yet, do so soon. The slow release nitrogen in the bag is the most sophisticated formula on the market and it lasts for up to 10 weeks. Apply again in early summer and late fall and I guarantee that you will notice a dramatic reduction in the number of weeds, a greener, healthier lawn and greater resistance to insect problems.

Take time for yourself. Consider the time that you spend at your favourite garden retailer a treat to yourself: in other words, don't rush it! The selection of plants and garden supplies is truly remarkable this time of year. Explore and enjoy!


 Clear Flow Hose

Clear flow hose Speaking of garden supplies, I am really excited about this new hose that we are introducing at Home Hardware. The Mark's Choice Clear Flow Hose is drinking water safe, flattens out to 1/3 the size of a garden variety hose when empty, is kink resistant, flexible to minus 10 degrees C and it is affordable.

We will be advertising it on TV this month, big time. When you are at your local Home Hardware look for it. I stake my reputation on it. Invented in Canada and made in Canada. I love that!!!

Events. See below for the many events that I am attending this month. Travels take me across Ontario and way out west to Kelowna and beyond. If you are able to come out and meet me I would be delighted. I will give you a packet of Mark's Choice veggie seeds if you mention this newsletter.

CJAD Montreal. I am delighted to announce that my weekly garden tip, The Green File, is now airing on CJAD Montreal, Quebec's largest English language station. Every Friday I will also appear live on The Andrew Carter Morning Show at 8:40am. Listen for this weekly garden segment.

Expanding my syndicated newspaper column. This month I am happy to report that the following papers are now carrying my weekly column:
Boissevain Recorder - Boissevain, Manitoba
Daily Gleaner - Fredericton, New Brunswick
The Journal Pioneer - Summerside, PEI

I am always looking for new papers to carry my passionate and informative gardening message. If you would like to see my column in your local paper, please email [email protected] with the newspaper name and editor's name.

All the best.
Merchant of Beauty.


 Mark's Choice Product of the Month
 3" Garden Knife

Garden knife This knife is one of my favourite new additions to the Mark's Choice line up this Spring. I never venture into the garden without a pocket knife. I find it so useful for dividing perennials, opening soil and mulch bags, cutting twine, and much more.

You can clip this 3" (7.6cm) garden knife pouch onto your pant pocket so you know where it is when you need it. This high-quality, stainless steel folding garden knife holds an edge and has outstanding value.

Home Hardware item# 7680-131


 From the Garden Shed
 My weekly blog post

From the Garden Shed Every Wednesday I post a new entry in my blog, From the Garden Shed.
In case you missed them, check out my postings from April:

April 3 - June Blooms, Prickly Plants and Flower Seeds

April 10 - Getting Started

April 17 - More Q & A from 'Ask Mark'

April 23 - It's Your Year to Grow Veggies


 Where's Mark this Month

Mark's schedule May 4 - Kelowna Home Hardware Building Centre
I will be at the Kelowna store from 11am to 1pm

May 10 - Markham Home Hardware (Highway 7)
Meet & Greet, and Stand up demos at 2pm

May 11 - Golfgreen Day at 3 Home Hardware locations:
Brantford Home Hardware 10am to 11am
Weeks Home Hardware noon to 1pm
Appleby Home Hardware 2pm to 3pm

May 15 - Ladies' Night at Orillia Home Hardware Building Centre
Event runs 7 to 10 pm

May 17 - Gravenhurst Home Hardware Grand Opening of Mark Cullen Approved Garden Centre
I will be at the Gravenhurst store from 10am to 2pm

May 18 - Alexandria Home Hardware Grand Opening of Mark Cullen Approved Garden Centre

May 23 - Gayety Gardening Gala at The Historic Gayety Theatre in Collingwood
For more info visit:

View my full schedule 

 Featured Plant of the Month - 'Mercury Rising' Tickseed
 Coreopsis 'Mercury Rising'

'Mercury Rising' A very long blooming perennial for sunny areas. The exceptionally large velvety-wine daisy-like flowers have a contrasting orange button centre, appearing from mid-summer to mid-autumn. These are excellent towards the middle of a sunny border, and in containers.

Hardy to zone 5 (4 with reliable snow cover).
Grows 40-45cm (15-18in.) tall and 60-90cm (24-34in.) wide.

Source: Garden Inspiration magazine 2013 

 Submit Your Local Event Listings

Local 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 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.


 The Canadian Tulip Festival

Tulip Festival Date: May 3-20

The 61st edition of the Canadian Tulip Festival will take place May 3-20 throughout Ottawa's central core.

More info 

 Spring Into Art
 Williams Mill Art Center

Williams Mill Date: May 4 & 5, May 11 & 12, May 18 & 19

Williams Mill Art Center in Glen Williams is hosting Spring Into Art. Exhibiting the work of 34 artists in a variety of mediums.

More info. 

 Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society
 5th Annual Super Plant Sale

Plant Sale Date: May 5
Time: noon - 4pm
Location: Toronto Botanical Garden

More info. 

 Toronto Botanical Garden
 Plant Sale

Toronto Botanical Garden Date: May 9 and 10 from 10am to 8pm and May 11 and 12 from 10am to 5pm

It's a plant-lover's delight, with choice perennials, annuals, vines, veggies, herbs, natives, woodies and more.

More info. 

 North American Native Plant Society NANPS
 Native Plant Sale

NANPS Date: May 11
Time: 10am to 3pm
Location: Markham Civic Centre, 101 Town Centre Blvd., Markham

Don't miss this opportunity to discover the wonder and beauty of native plants. The North American Native Plant Society is holding their annual sale of wildflowers, ferns, grasses and sedges, as well as trees and shrubs. Also hundreds of books on related topics.

More info. 

 Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society
 Plant Sale

Richmond Hill Garden Society Date: May 11
Time: 9am to 11:30am
Location: McConaghy Seniors' Centre, 10,100 Yonge Street

Perennials and annuals, herbs, vegetables & seeds. Rain barrels can be ordered on-line and picked up at the Plant Sale.

More info. 

 Plant Sale at Christ Church Stouffville

Plant sale Date: May 11
Time: 9 am to 1pm
Location: 354 Sunset Blvd., Stouffville

Perennials, annuals and house plants. Rain or Shine.

More info. 

 Brantford Garden Club
 Annual Plant Sale - Major Fundraiser

Plant sale Date: May 11
Time: 8am - 2pm
Location: Lion's Park Aud., 20 Edge Street, Brantford

More info. 

 Garden Aurora
 Annual Plant Sale

Plant Sale Date: May 11
Time: 9am to noon
Location: The Royal Canadian Legion, 105 Industrial Parkway North

More info. 

 A Growing Affair
 Plant Sale

A Growing Affair Date: May 11
Location: UBC Botanical Garden

Add some variety to your garden from the wide selection at this plant sale.

More info. 

 Out of the Ashes Tree Tour
 Lessons From the Emerald Ash Borer

Tree Tour Date: May 11
Time: 1pm to 2:30pm
Location: Milne Park, Markham

LEAF's Melissa Williams teams up with Markham Parks Planner Nory Takata and Forest Entomologist Kathleen Ryan to explore the ways we can all play a role in the recovery and strengthening of our local environment.

Registration recommended.

More info. 

 Gardens Manitoba
 Mother's Day Plant Sale

Plant Sale Date: May 12
Time: 9am to 4pm
Location: 500 Shaftesbury Ave., Canadian Mennonite University

Friends of Gardens Manitoba's Mother's Day plant sale offers some of the season's earliest and best-valued plants.

More info. 

 The Greater Moncton Dahlia Club
 Annual Dahlia Tuber Sale

Dahlia sale Date: May 16
Time: 7pm
Location: Lewisville Middle School, in the Teaching Theatre, 45 McAulay Drive

More info. 

 Nepean Horticultural Society
 Annual Plant Auction and Plant Sale

Plant Sale Date: May 16
Time: 6:30pm
Location: City View United Church, 6 Epworth Avenue
More info: 613-226-7102


 Bobcaygeon & District Horticultural Society
 May Flower Show

Flower Show Date: May 16
Time: 4-7pm
Location: Knox Presbyterian Church Hall


 Pine Ridge Garden Club
 Plant, Bake and Yard Sale

Plant sale Date: May 18
Time: 8:30am to 1pm
Location: Nestleton Community Centre on Highway 7a

More info. 

 Montreal Botanical Garden
 Great Gardening Weekend

Great Gardening Weekend Date: May 24 to 26

A spring event not to be missed. Over 100 exhibitors. Sale of plants and garden accessories. Presentation by gardening experts.

More info. 

 Woodbridge Garden & Horticultural Society
 Plant Sale

Plant sale Date: May 25 rain or shine
Time: 10am to 2pm
Location: Historic Wallace House, 137 Woodbridge Avenue


 Cramahe Horticultural Society
 Plant Sale

Plant Sale Date: May 25
Time: 9am
Location: Apple Blossom Tyme Festival, Colborne


 Cloverleaf Garden Club
 Plant Sale

Plant sale Date: May 25
Time: 8:30am to noon
Location: Carmen Corbasson Community Centre, 1389 Cawthra Road

More info. 

 Alberta Regional Lily Society (ARLS)
 Primavera Festival Gardener's Day

ARLS Information Table & Lily Bulb Sale

Date: May 26
Time: 9am to 3pm
Location: Santa Maria Goretti Community Centre 11050-90 Street, Edmonton

More info. 

 Talk on 'Gardening from a Hammock'

Gardening from a Hammock Date: May 30
Time: 7-8:30pm
Location: Centennial Hall, 2331 New St., Main Branch Public Library, Burlington

Guest Speaker: Dan Copper, from 'Gardening from a Hammock'
More info: 905-639-3611 ext. 1301