December 2013
Mark Cullen e-newsletter
Gardening with Mark
In This Issue
Prostate Cancer message
Things To Do
Product of the Month
Featured (Outdoor) Plant
Featured (Indoor) Plant



Gardening Connections

Mark's Choice   
Home Hardware 
Toronto Star 
Ottawa Citizen  
CTV Canada AM 
Join Our Mailing List

In With The New


I can't believe how fast 8 years has gone by. 


It was in 2005 that I 'revamped' my website: it was, faster, jammed with more information, more pictures and generally more 'user friendly'.  


Welcome to the 2010's.  People change, technology changes and how we use it changes.  Isn't that just the fluid, ever-flowing alchemy of life?  Like water, always seeking the lowest level.  Not in a bad way but rather in a powerful, predictable way that we never foresee with absolute clarity.

And so, the need to change my website crept up on me and one day, bingo!  It seemed like the most obvious thing to do. 

When you visit the new you will find:

- More pictures [surprise!].  Between my assistant Brenda and myself, we have a library now of over 15,000 garden shots, many from gardens across this great land of ours in Canada, others from abroad and of course too many from my own 10 acre garden [is that possible?].


- More videos.  Call me a little slow [you would not be the first, isn't this why we have kids?] but I have joined the YouTube generation.  There are 16 how-to videos online as we speak, plus direct access to an inventory of my work on CTV/Canada AM with Jeff Hutcheson.  


Click on the Home Hardware link for even more How-To videos featuring moi - learn how to prune permanent garden plants, enjoy the best looking lawn on the block, how to plant your vegetable garden and more.  With more, of course, to come.


- My weekly blog.  Thoughts on a current subject related to gardening and our environment that is useful, practical and sometimes contemplative.


- Answers to your gardening questions.  All of my written work over recent years is catalogued and cross referenced using a powerful new search engine.  Type in a keyword to find the information that you are looking for, whether it is a favourite newspaper column that I wrote or a simple answer to a straightforward question.  


This section is faster, more thorough and useful than the previous website.  Search the 'article library' to find the search engine and to get answers.


- Facebook.  A fast connection to social media where I post pictures, my current media work in print/broadcast and commercial [Home Hardware and Golfgreen], daily reminders of 'what to do in the garden' and of course the special events that I attend and/or support.  


With more than 5,000 'fans' on Facebook and growing, I can't afford to NOT post something everyday.  Ditto Twitter...


'Popular posts'.  While my work is enormously popular [a little humour], not all of it is equally so.  We use the home page of to post the most popular stories of the week... and they will change weekly. 


It is my plan to feature one story on food gardening, another on 'how to' gardening advice that is timely and practical, another that features environmental issues as they relate to gardening and a fourth that draws attention to garden events, contests, travel and the like. 


In short the new is meant to give you more information with less effort, a smattering of entertainment and a persistent reflection of how I see the world of gardening/environment.  


It is meant to be helpful and thought provoking.  Welcome to my new world!  Faster, deeper, more colourful and engaging.


I would really appreciate your feedback - good, bad or indifferent - on our efforts.  Today is the official launch! 

Reply to this email to share your feedback, or email [email protected].


My Prostate Cancer message

Last month I wrote a newsletter that featured a story about my recent journey with prostate cancer.  


The response was overwhelmingly positive.  Many thanks to all of you, for your kind words of encouragement and for sharing your personal stories about cancer.  


I believe that the message touched a lot of men [many through female readers], some of whom may not have been planning on getting a physical exam or PSA test but who now will.  


To you guys: God bless you and thanks for acting.  Mission accomplished, for today.  


To celebrate the launch of my new website and to thank you for paying attention, I am giving away 5 x $100 Home Hardware gift cards.  


When you win yours [assuming that you enter] you can use it on anything including sale merchandise at any of the 1,100 Home Hardware stores coast to coast to coast. 


All you have to do is name the topic of my weekly blog post. Details below. 


Trivia: Home Hardware is a 100% Canadian company with one store outside of the country... where is it?


Answer: Saint Pierre and Miquelon [a self-governing collectivity of France, situated in the Atlantic Ocean near Newfoundland].   
Things To Do 'In the Garden' this Month

Hey!  What garden?


Ok.  Let's get serious.  Even on the prairies and way up north, gardening can still be engaged in:


Plant amaryllis for mid winter colour.  It is a lot of fun to watch the stem develop on an amaryllis as it reaches for light in preparation for blooming.  Look for the over-sized bulbs in the Mark's Choice amaryllis kit [featured below].


- Poinsettias.  With proper care your poinsettia will last through the holiday season and well into the New Year. Place in a room where there is sufficient light and warmth, not where the sun will shine directly on the plant.  Avoid hot or cold drafts or excess heat from appliances, baseboard heaters or heat ducts.  


Set the plant in or on a waterproof container to protect your furnishings.  Water the plant thoroughly when the soil is dry to the touch. Remember to discard excess water from the saucer.  To prolong the bright colour of the bracts, temperatures should not exceed 72 degrees F during the day or 60 degrees F at night. 


Selecting a cut Christmas tree.  This is a popular subject every December.  Check out last week's blog post for tips on selecting a tree, or you can watch my CTV segment from this week.


- Repotting tropicals.  Think about the tropical plants that you brought indoors in the fall.  Are the hibiscus, oleander, mandevilla vine, and herbs now dropping leaves on your living room floor?  They could use some TLC right about now.  


My Toronto Star column next Saturday, December 7th, will give you all the details.  I will post a link to the column next week on my homepage.


- Shake snow off of evergreens to prevent snow damage.


- Use Alaskan Ice Melter instead of salt - save your plants and  your cement walkway.


- Using evergreen boughs and a cut tree? Apply Wilt-Pruf to the needles to minimize loss of moisture and reduce fire hazard.  Odourless, colourless and easy to use. Available at most independent garden centres.


- If you plan to build an ice rink in your yard this winter, I remind you that the clear flow hose is perfect for flooding the rink.  It is lightweight and freeze-proof to -15 C without windchill.  Great gift for dad !! 




New Website Contest 

Introducing the new  


To celebrate the launch of my new website and to thank you for visiting it regularly, I am running a contest for the month of December.  


Thank you also for connecting your friends and family to  I appreciate your confidence in my work!


Every Friday in December, I will randomly select one winner from all contest entries.  Each winner will receive a $100 gift card, good for any Mark's Choice item at Home Hardware. 


I will also select a 'bonus' winner at noon on December 24th.  This winner will be selected randomly from all entries received December 1st through December 24th.


Visit the Contest page on my website for details.  Be sure to enter weekly.  

Mark's Choice Product of the Month

Amaryllis Kit 

amaryllis Every year I feature this beautiful kit in my newsletter.  I truly believe this is the ideal hostess gift.  And don't forget to buy one for yourself. 


The Mark's Choice amaryllis kit is available at Home Hardware.  The premium-sized bulbs support so many blossoms and flowering stems that many people have reported 3 or 4 stems with 4 flowers on each stem.


The soil, pot and bulb are all included in the gift box.   I believe the Mark's Choice amaryllis kit offers the highest quality and value.


Pot up an amaryllis bulb soon to ensure you have blooms in time for my annual contest.

Featured (Outdoor) Plant of the Month

'Early Snow' Daylily   


Hemerocallis 'Early Snow'

Representing an incredible advancement in near-white daylilies, the blossoms of 'Early Snow' are "supremely beautiful and flawless" in the opinion of daylily expert Arthur Kroll.


Gigantic 18cm (7") flowers of incredible substance are rich cream with a glowing yellow-green throat.  The ruffled petals open wide and flat, making the flowers appear even larger.


Source: Garden Inspiration, 2013

Featured (Indoor) Plant of the Month
The new varieties of cyclamen are outstanding!  The colours are so vivid and bright that you will have trouble believing that they are real.

Cyclamen thrive in a cool environment, require moderate to high light [a west or south facing window during winter], bloom for up to 10 weeks and will rebloom next season with some care.  


A great, low maintenance gift plant - including to yourself!  

Watching My Garden Grow
A Gardener's Organizer

Looking for the perfect gift for the Gardener on your list?

Check this out!  It's the perfect organizer!


What makes this little organizer so different is that it has 7 pockets to store plant tags, picutres, warranties and receipts, and it also has a container section, grid map paper, cute little gardening quotes and is a two year planner.  


The cover is wipeable and spiral bound, which makes it user friendly!  No fighting to keep the book open at the right page.  There are sections for each area of your garden as well as for each season.

For more info. Visit

Submit Your 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 before publication.  Send your info to [email protected] with the subject line 'Newsletter Event Listing'.  Please provide a brief description of the event, along with a website for further information.

Light Up The Hills

Festival of Lights


The Dominion Garden Park in Georgetown is a wonderland of 50,000 LED lights and displays from December 1, 2013 to January 3, 2014 from 5pm until 11pm every evening.


The park is located at the corner of Maple Avenue and Guelph Street in Georgetown.

More info:

Christmas Season at Butchart Gardens

Christmas lights, holiday wreaths, carolers, ice skating, festive dining - it's an exciting time at The Gardens.


Dates: December 1st through January 6th


For more info visit

Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens
Winter Market

Historic Gardens

Join us for our winter version of the Farmer's Market, at the Historic Gardens every Saturday until mid May.


Lots of vendors will be on hand, with locally roasted coffee, baked goods, preserves, produce, fish, meat, eggs, cheese, hot foods and lots more!


Date: December 7, 2013

Time: 9am - 12pm

More info



North American Native Plant Society

Toronto Botanical Garden

Promoting Biodiversity in the Urban Landscape

Date: January 22, 2014

Speaker: Scott Torrance, Landscape Architect

Location: Toronto Botanical Garden, 700 Lawrence Ave. East

Time: 7:00pm

2014 Guelph Organic Conference

And Trade Expo 

Dates: January 30 to February 2


Now heading into its 33rd year on the Guelph campus, "Catching The Wave" will bring forth many issues which are top-of-mind for active growers and marketers: organic crops, livestock & pastures; permaculture, pollination & biodiversity; software, marketing & urban ag; plus organic meets foodservice & how to inform the consumer with accurate information.


Location: Guelph University Centre

2014 Stratford Garden Festival

"Beyond the Garden Gate"


Explore nine imaginative and beautiful display gardens offering a kaleidoscope of floral colour and the heady fragrance of blooming flowers and mulch.  


Shop the Festival Marketplace and learn from top garden gurus as part of the Horizon Pro Resp Speaker Series.


The Stratford Garden Festival, now in its 14th year, is a wonderful taste of Spring as well as an important fundraiser in the fight against lung disease.


Dates: February 27 - March 2, 2014

Location: Stratford Rotary Complex, 353 McCarthy Rd., Stratford ON