July 2014
Mark Cullen e-newsletter
Gardening with Mark
In This Issue
To Do in Your Garden
Stay in Touch



Gardening Connections

Home Hardware 
Toronto Star 
Ottawa Citizen  
CTV Canada AM 
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Photo Op  


Do you have photos on your 'hand held device' that go way back?  Me too.


I was scrolling through them this morning when I came across this picture of my back yard, taken from inside the house at the kitchen sink.  


Below is a picture from the same spot, taken this morning. 

I can't help but be struck by the dramatic changes that occur in our Canadian climate.  It was, after all, six months ago that my yard looked like picture #1.  


Here we are on the threshold of a 'long' summer season and the birds are singing, the gold finch are starting to build their nests [they are late to the party] and the colours in my garden are astounding.  My peonies are just off their peek of bloom and my daylilies are just coming into their own.


We are on the inevitable march through the gardening season and anyone who takes the time to reflect on the lighting speed of it all has to be impressed.  Me?  I am dumbfounded every year by the drama of it all.  Who needs feature length, 3D action movies?  I have a garden. 


Somehow, I think, the kids won't understand all of this talk.  So I think that I will keep this to myself.

Which brings me to grubs:
Grub Busters

Drama to grubs?  


Well, I have just completed my annual cross-Canada Tour for Home Hardware [Hello Stellarton, Nova Scotia and Port Hardy, B.C.!]  and I can tell you that there is problem with grubs in the lawn most everywhere.


You will know if you have grey or white grubs in your lawn if you wake up in the morning to find that it is a moon-scape.  Your lawn is torn to bits and there are holes through the root-zone everywhere.  This is evidence of raccoon damage. 


If you have lots of holes about the size of a quarter [2 cm diameter] you have skunk damage.  Different rodents, same problem. 


Your grubs are actually shrimp cocktails to raccoons and skunks.  They enjoy them without the dipping sauce, just fresh from the roots of your lawn.


Nematodes kill grubs.  They are microscopic organisms that already exist in your lawn naturally.  By applying a few million more you intensify the population and voila, grub problem taken care of.


Controlling grubs with nematodes is easy, if you do the following:

  1. Buy fresh nematodes. You purchase them out of a beer fridge at your local Home Hardware or independent garden centre.  They have a 'best before' date - check it out.
  2. Apply them right away or put them in YOUR fridge until you are ready, being mindful of the best-before date.
  3. Water your lawn for 2 hours before you apply them.
  4. Apply your nematodes through a hose-end applicator [available at Home Hardware] according to the directions on the globe-shaped package.
  5. Water again, only this time for 3 hours.

All of this water is needed to drive the nematodes deep into the root zone of your lawn plants.  You should apply them when the temperature is at least 18 degrees Celsius and not more than 30 degrees Celsius.


This is the perfect time of year to apply nematodes as the grubs have migrated up near the surface of the soil and they are feeding actively.  So you can 'get them' now, but not later in July, when the heat hits home, as they move deep into the soil during the hot part of summer.  


There is another opportunity to control grubs in late August and early September when they, once again, migrate up near the surface.


One application is good for the year and I have had consumers report that they can be effective for up to 3 years, but the supplier does not stand behind that claim. 


Nematodes control grubs.  Now you know.  

Things To Do in your garden in July:

1. Stake tall growing perennials.  I am calling in extra troops to help me with this one [thank you Brenda and Sig!] My 27 hydrangea Annabelle need serious support before they bloom and the blossoms fill with water.


My delphiniums and the giant rudebeckia will become high risk of falling over in the wind in about 2 weeks if I don't get to this.


2.  Stake tomatoes.  Use a Mark's Choice spiral stake [no twine needed].  When you get your tomatoes off the ground you double your crop.


3.  Fertilize roses and perennials now with Green Earth Rose, Annual & Perennial Food 4-8-4 and fertilize tomatoes with Green Earth Tomato & Vegetable Food 4-6-8, unless you used the 'once a season' fertilizer like 'Shake & Grow' in early spring.  


4.  Pick veggies like peas [mine will be ready next week], beans, radishes, etc. as they become ready.  Finish picking your strawberries and pulling rhubarb now.  For most of us Canadians that is about it... maybe another week or so for others in cooler parts.  


5.  Plan on picking currents and raspberries.  You waited all year, don't miss out!


6.  Weed.  It is no fun, perhaps, but it is easy now and drudgery in a month.  Get them young, fresh and with a shallow root: now!! Sharpen your hoe with a Mark's Choice garden file.  


7.  Mulch.  July is mulch month [did you know that?]   Yup.  I use lots and lots of finely ground up pine and cedar bark around roses, perennials and where I don't want to weed or labour over watering.


8.  Herbs.  Pick them. Use them.  Ignore them [i.e. don't over water them] they like it hot and dry, except for basil which requires a little more attention. No need to fertilize herbs.


9.  Eat.


10.  Pray


11.  Love


12.  Garden


13.  Write  [I love to hear from you as do your loved ones]


14.  OK the last 5 were not mine: I took them from Elizabeth Gilbert.


Keep Your knees dirty,



p.s. Happy Canada Day!


p.s.s. If you live in Qualicum Beach, B.C. be sure to join me at Bryan Virgin's Home Hardware store on Thursday July 24th (10am) and the Garden Talk community event at 7pm, Qualicum Beach Civic Centre.

Summer Photo Contest

I enjoy taking photos in my garden at least once a week. This gives me a great record of the changing beauty in the garden throughout the entire growing season.  


I share many of these photos on my Facebook page.  When the snow flies this winter I will have these photos to inspire my plans for 2015.


If you have a 'favourite' photo of your garden from this year, I would like to see it. Submit one photo to [email protected]. I will post all of the photos on my Facebook page.


I will select 30 winners randomly from all entries. Each winner will receive a copy of The Harrowsmith Almanac Gardening Digest ($4.95 value). 


(Deadline for entry is July 8, 2014)

Mark's Choice Product of the Month
Pigtail Plant Supports

The Mark's Choice line of gardening products includes a great selection of plant supports.


My favourite are the pigtail supports.  They are great for delphiniums and other tall blooms.  Install plant supports early to prevent damage from rain and wind.  

Home Hardware item# 5094-499.

Watch the video.

Stay in Touch


You can stay in touch with my gardening tips by visiting my:


Weekly blog post - From the Garden Shed - every Wednesday


Weekly audio tip - The Green File - every Wednesday


Daily Facebook page updates


Daily Tweets


And Weekly Canada AM segments, on Wednesdays.


Submit Your Event Listings 


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.


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.


15th International Garden Festival

Dates: June 28 to September 28


Location: Reford Gardens, Grand-Metis, Quebec


22 contemporary gardens.  Conceived by sixty-five designers from around the world.


These installations invite visitors to enter and contemplate new ways of seeing the landscape and the world.


More info.
Franklin's Pollination Station Unveiling

Date: July 4

Time: 11:30am - 12:30pm

Location: The Franklin Children's Garden on Toronto Island


Event will include a special presentation with guest speakers, followed by a walking tour to see the garden's transformation and to explore all the programming the Franklin Children's Garden has to offer!


Located on Centre Island in Toronto Island Park, the Franklin Children's Garden is an interactive garden for children and families. The newest feature of the Franklin Children's Garden is Franklin's Pollination Station.


The goal of Franklin's Pollination Station is to help sustain the life cycle of pollinators by providing an environment in which they can thrive and reproduce, and to educate children about the important role pollinators play in nature. 


More info.

The Butchart Gardens
British Columbia 

Sunken Garden

Saturday Night Fireworks


Date: July 5

Time: 10 pm - 10:45 pm


All ten summer Saturday nights feature a jaw-dropping, dazzling Firework show with both aerial and ground displays choreographed to show tunes.


More info.

The Grimsby Garden Club



50th Anniversary


Date: July 5

Time: 10am - 4pm


Tour 10 gorgeous gardens: from compact urban gardens in new subdivisions to heritage homes on expansive properties that border the Niagara Escarpment or Lake Ontario.

Tickets: $15 cash only.


More info.

Niagara-on-the-Lake Horticultural Society



Garden Tour


Date: July 5

Time: 10am - 4pm


Musicians will create a lovely new ambiance to the 23rd Annual Niagara-on-the-Lake Horticultural Society's Garden Tour.  This is a self-guided tour showcasing 9 plus gardens.  The surprise "plus" includes 6 charming courtyards on Jordan Street.

Tickets: $10 each


More info.

Annapolis Royal House & Garden Tour

Nova Scotia


Historic Gardens

Date: July 5

The event will include a visit to several private properties where residents have made use of unique designs and materials to create wonderful gardens and landscapes.

Tickets: $25

More info. 


I visited the Historic Gardens in June and was reminded how this garden is indeed a national treasure. It is not just 17 acres of paradise and worth the drive from Halifax but it is a living history of OUR history.  


They tell us how the Acadians lived using plants and well articulated markers.  AND there is an authentic Acadian house rebuilt on the property from the 1600's.  Yes, the 1600's.  THIS is a very important part of Canada.  ~Mark 

Delphinium Festival - Art in the Garden



Date: July 5 and 6

Time: 9am - 5pm

Location: Plant Paradise Country Gardens, 16258 Humber Station Road, Caledon, ON


The festival includes a guided talk & tours of the botanical gardens, buffet lunch under a marquis tent overlooking the gardens, and the Art in the Garden Show & Sale.


More info.

Aurora Garden & Horticultural Society



Annual Tour


Date: July 6

Time: noon to 4:30pm

The owners of 8 private paradises will be in attendance to answer all of your questions.

Tickets: $15


More info.

Guelph Horticultural Society -Garden Showcase



Date: July 6

Time: 1pm - 5:30pm


Come and see a lovely cross-section of unique outdoor spaces.  There will be a wonderful selection of artists set up in each garden, as well as refreshments and great door prizes!

Tickets: $10 per person, children under 12 free


More info.

Gardens of Guildwood




Date: July 6

Time: 1-5pm


The Guildwood Village Community Association announces the twelfth annual "A Day in the Gardens of Guildwood" garden tour.

Nine gardens are featured.  Proceeds from the tour will support Guildwood Village Community Association beautification projects.

Wasaga Beach Garden Club - Garden Tour




Date: July 6

Time: 10am - 4pm

Tickets: $15


Every visitor will receive a fantastic gift and wonderful door prizes can be won by some lucky people.  Some of the 6 gardens will have Master Gardeners on hand to answer questions.  

Campbellford and District Hort Society




11th Annual Garden Tour


Date: July 12

Time: 10am - 4pm

Tickets: $10

We are featuring 6 well-established gardens in Campbellford, Hastings and Trent River this year.  A passport, complete with maps and garden descriptions can be obtained by emailing.

15th Annual Town & Country Garden Tour




Date: July 12

Time: 10am - 4pm

Hosted by the Canadian Federation of University Women Belleville and District

Price: $25

Ticket price includes: self-guided tour of 7 gardens in Belleville and surrounding area, picnic lunch at St. Thomas Anglican Church, Belleville

Proceeds of the Garden Tour support college and university scholarships for local students.


More info.

Bobcaygeon & District Horticultural Society




17th Annual Garden Tour


Date: July 12

Time: 10am - 4pm

Location: Bobcaygeon and surroundings.

Tour passes $15 per person.  Garden Tour highlights 7 unique gardens.  As you visit the gardens you will be entertained by several musicians, be educated by local Master Gardeners, be supplied with free refreshments and treats and have opportunities to purchase birdhouses, local honey and artwork from local artists.

More info.

Night Critters: Sleepover



Toronto Botanical Garden

Date: July 12

Time: 6pm

Location: Toronto Botanical Garden


Camp out in our garden!  Go on a nighttime bat hunt; whip up some moth broth; make raccoon masks and play some great nighttime games.  After a pizza snack, cozy up around a campfire to roast marshmallows and tell stories.  Bring your tent, a parent and some jammies for TBG's first all-night family event.

Public: $75; Members: $65


More info.

Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society




Open Gates Water Gardens Tour


Date: July 13

Time: 10am - 4pm

The nine gardens on this self-guided tour display various ways to include water in a garden's design - from large gardens with water features developed over several decades, mid-size gardens, and the small garden of a new house.  


More info.

Burlington Garden Tour



Supporting the Carpenter Hospice


Date: July 13

Time: 10am - 5pm

Rain or shine

Eleven beautiful gardens in the Aldershot area will be showcased this year - each garden depicting the homeowners' individual style.

Tickets: $20


More info.

Brantford Garden Club



162nd Flower and Garden Show


Date: July 13

Time: 10am - 4pm

Location: Tranquility Hall, Francis Street and Powerline Road, Brantford, ON

Free admission


More info.

Markham Garden and Horticultural Society




Garden Tour

Date: July 13

The Markham Garden and Horticultural society invites you to join a self-guided garden tour of 10 beautiful private gardens.


More info.  

The Ontario Horticultural Association's Annual Convention



Date: July 18 - 20

Location: The NAV Centre, Cornwall


The conference is open to both OHA members and non-members, and all those interested are welcome to attend!

Over 300 gardening enthusiasts from across the province will gather in Cornwall.


More info.

Cloverleaf Garden Club of Mississauga



Bus Trip


Date: July 26

Time: 7am departure

Destination: 'Garden Walk Buffalo', Buffalo NY

Cost: $105 Cdn

In celebration of Cloverleaf's 70th anniversary, we are inviting the gardening community to join us on a day trip to the unique garden tour in Buffalo.  The cost includes motor coach bus, a platted lunch, a local tour guide, taxes and gratuities.


More info.

The Greater Toronto Water Garden & Hort. Society




Annual Water Garden Tour


Date: July 27

Location: Richmond Hill & Thornhill area

Time: 10am - 4pm

Registration forms are available for this self-guided tour: www.onwatergarden.com

Nine private gardens.

Tickets: $12 per person