August 2014
Mark Cullen e-newsletter
Gardening with Mark
In This Issue
Things To Do
Product of the Month
Connect with Mark



Gardening Connections

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CTV Canada AM 
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'A Little Confused'

Yesterday early in the morning there was a mist rising from our pond.  Cold evening air was meeting the warmed up water surface.  Walking to the chicken coop to provide their daily rations the air felt like an early October morning.  Funny, that. 

With about the same number of 'garden days' ahead of us as there are behind us I can say that we are officially at the half way point of the gardening season.  But more precisely we are at the beginning of the harvest season, in the middle of the weed-pulling season and finishing up the plant-fertilizing season. 

Our many gardening activities overlap like mini-seasons within a season.  Early in spring we had our lawn prep season which overlapped with the soil prep season in the veggie garden which led seamlessly into the seed sowing and planting season. 

It all makes sense, when you get into the rhythm of the thing.  And it is 'getting into the rhythm' of it that must excite new gardeners.  Discovering the results of changing weather and the passage of time every day focuses our attention.  And then we get this weird weather. I am a bit confused, but fortunately my plants seem to take the weather in their stride, for the most part. 

Vancouver Island  


Last week, Mary and I were on Vancouver Island.  We were fortunate to stay at Sooke Harbour House, a fabulous 30 room inn with a restaurant to die for.  They grow most of the food that they serve, including many edible flowers [see photo].  


The presentation is so outstanding that Mary photographed many of the dishes as they were presented.




Vancouver Island is in the middle of a drought.  When we arrived, they had not received measurable rainfall on the south end of the island for a month.  It rained nicely on the Wednesday which was fine with us as we were driving up to Qualicum Beach for a Home Hardware event.  

This community had won the 'Community Achievement Award' from Communities in Bloom and for all of their efforts they hosted me for a day.  It was delightful.  I urge you to visit this gem of a town as soon as your schedule allows.

The long August weekend is in front of us and I would not want you to get bored, so here is my list of 'things to do'.  Remember that August represents the second half of 'hammock' season, so be sure to get a good book and read your buns off. 

By the way, while in B.C. I read Bill Bryson's 'One Summer.  America 1927'.  It was thoroughly enjoyable and like all of Mr. Bryson's writing it is informative, enlightening and above all, a good laugh.  Great escape book!

Have a great month in the garden and remember to keep your knees dirty [see my new knee pads featured below!]



Merchant of Beauty.

p.s. thank you so much for supporting our "Pumps For Food" charity golf tourney August 26th.  We are now in a sell out position and many subsistence farmers in El Salvador will be able to harvest a crop next year as a result.  Full tummies bring peace.  Details at   My buddy Rev. Jim Clubine and I thank you again!  

Thing To Do in your garden in August:

1. German iris need to be dug up, divided and replanted in August [or given away to neighbours and friends]. 

2. Prune back early flowering perennials for a 'second showing'.  This works very well with short veronica.

3. Prune neglected cedar hedges.  There is no bad time to do this, but August is the BEST time as the new growth that occurs afterwards will fill in and look good all winter.  This is also true of yews, boxwood, junipers and other evergreens.  

4. Last fertilizer application to trees, shrubs, evergreens and roses.  Use Green Earth granular products for great results.  Do not apply after early August or you might force new growth on plants that will not have time to harden off before winter sets in [scary thought, no?]

5. Over seed a thin lawn and grow a new one.  This is the best month [along with September] to sow grass seed.  Cool evening temperatures and heavy morning dew assist germination.  Use Golfgreen grass seed.  Remember: the slower the germination the more permanent the lawn.  If your grass seed germinates in a day or two you got ripped off.

6. Fertilize your lawn with Golfgreen for a thick, healthy lawn [last application in late October with CIL Winterizer].

7. Go on a garden tour in your area or take a trip to some of the fabulous public gardens in Canada.  Consider Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, Montreal Botanical Garden, the Royal Botanical Garden in Burlington/Hamilton, VanDusen Gardens in Vancouver and of course the grand daddy of them all, The Butchart Gardens north of Victoria B.C.


8. Speaking of public gardens, take a walk through some of the community and allotment gardens in your neighbourhood.  You will be amazed at what you learn.  Different cultures garden differently and grow different plants.  I find it fascinating!  Remember not to pick or eat the produce while there...! 


Finally: hammock time.  Relax, absorb, read and reflect.


Contest - With a Twist

Last month I ran a contest and asked you to submit a photo of your garden.  I was overwhelmed by the response and really enjoyed seeing all of the photos.


This month, I'm inviting you to submit a photo of your favourite flower in your garden.  

Email one photo to  I will post all of the photos on my Facebook page.


20 winners will receive a copy of The Harrowsmith Almanac Gardening Digest.  


Winners will be determined by the number of 'likes' a photo receives on my facebook page.  Encourage your friends and family to 'vote' for your photo to increase your chance of winning.  


(Deadline for entry is August 10, 2014. Voting closes August 13, 2014.)

Mark's Choice Product of the Month
Nylon Knee Pads

My common salutation is 'keep your knees dirty', and I mean it partly in jest.  I can't count the number of blue jeans that I have worn through at the knees.  


I've tried many knee pads without satisfaction, generally because they are too big and bulky, and they allow dirt in from the top.


The Mark's Choice Nylon Knee Pads have been torture tested on my own knees for many hours. I recommend them for people who want to protect their knees from injury and their pants from wearing out prematurely.


These pads don't have any excess padding because there is enough natural padding from the soil and the lawn. And, as requested, the top of the pad seals out dirt. They are light, easy to put on and take off while wearing gloves and they are washable!


Exclusive to Home Hardware.  (item# 1010-270)

Connect with Mark

- Check out Mark Cullen Gardening on YouTube for 'How To' videos to help with your lawn & garden.


- Watch my weekly segment on CTV Canada AM with Jeff. Every Wednesday, between 8:30 and 9:00am. If you miss a segment, watch them online.


- My weekly newspaper column can be found online at The Toronto Star.


- Follow my daily Tweets on Twitter (@MarkCullen4)


- Listen to my weekly gardening tip 'The Green File'. I post a new audio clip every Wednesday.

- Follow my daily postings on my Facebook page and join the discussion to receive advice from other gardeners. 
- I encourage you to visit My Library to search for great gardening information.   

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 with the subject line 'Newsletter Event Listing'.  Please provide a brief description of the event, along with a website for further information.


Acadian Kitchen Party 
Nova Scotia
Annapolis Royal

Date: August 5

Time: 5pm - 8pm

Location: Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, Nova Scotia

Experience a unique evening in the mid-summer Gardens surrounded by the dynamic sound of an Acadian kitchen brand.  It will be a toe-tapping time - you won't be able to sit still.


More info. 

Bobcaygeon & District Horticultural Society




52nd Annual Flower, Vegetable Show and Summer Tea


Date: August 6

Time: 1pm - 4pm

Location: Knox Presbyterian Church Hall, Bobcaygeon, ON


More info.

Reford Gardens - Benefit Dinner 2014

Fondation des Jardins de Metis

Date: August 8

Time: 6pm

Location: Outside dinner in the vegetable garden at the Reford Gardens, Grand-Metis, Quebec

$100 per person, donation receipt of $50


More info.

Garden Party & Tour

British Columbia   


Date: August 9

Time: 9am-4pm

Location: Michaud Heritage House.  5202 - 204th street, Langley, BC (by Portage Park)


Live entertainment, Garden Art Gallery, Tea & scones $5, Book sale, healthy gardening display


More info.

The Butchart Gardens

British Columbia   


Saturday Night Fireworks

Date: August 9, 16, 23, 30

Time: 10pm - 10:45pm


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


More info.

Ontario Iris Society   


Rhizome auction and Sale

Date: August 10

Time: 1pm - 5pm

Location: Toronto Botanical Garden. 777 Lawrence Avenue East, Toronto, ON


Join us for an auction of newer iris introductions then stay for a sale of iris rhizomes supplied by members from their personal collections. An opportunity to buy irises at unheard-of prices. Doors open to ONIS members at noon.


More info. 

The Brandon Garden Club



Flower, Fruit & Vegetable Show


Date: August 11

Time: 1pm - 6pm

Location: Don Glen Hall at Park Avenue Activity Centre, 311 Park Avenue East, Brandon, MB

Tea, coffee & dessert served among the Best of Show "Court of Honour"

Admission to the show is free - donations accepted for tea.

More info.

Coyote Crawl



Toronto Botanical Garden

Date: August 13

Time: 6:30-8:30pm

Location: Toronto Botanical Garden. 777 Lawrence Avenue, Toronto, ON


Join us on a cool, night-time hike through a coyote's forest home.  We'll howl for coyote pups, build coyote dens, examine skulls and furs and learn more about the incredible world of Toronto's most misunderstood mammal. Public $30; Member $25


More info.