September 2014
Mark Cullen e-newsletter
Gardening with Mark
In This Issue
Ted's tomato sauce
Parent's Rewards
Things To Do
August Photo Contest Winners
New Contest
Product of the Month
Stay in Touch
A Simple Message



Gardening Connections

Home Hardware 
Toronto Star 
Ottawa Citizen  
CTV Canada AM 
Join Our Mailing List

September.  Nooooo!

Where did summer go?  This past week the temperature actually spiked to 30 degrees c. (or 38 on the 'humidex').  Someone said to me on that day, "This is summer.  Enjoy it."  I really don't remember a summer with such regular rain falls and cool evening temperatures.  Frankly, I like it.


Jeff Hutcheson, my gardening buddy on Canada AM [and weatherman], tells me that most of the country has experienced a cooler than normal summer, while the west coast has been on the dry side.  


For the most part I believe that garden plants have performed well and that trees generally have grown more than average.  When someone cuts down a tree years from now they will find one big, fat ring where the tree grew in the summer of 2014. 


I have been watching the 2,000 [give or take] trees on our country property grow with great interest.  I planted them in 2006/07 and this year the sugar maples and the Norway spruce added about a meter of new growth.  Whewwweee!  


The wildlife activity in my yard is picking up commensurate with plant growth.  Birds, insects and reptiles are enjoying the permanent 'green cover' as much as I am.  


And speaking of wildlife, did you happen to see my column about building an 'insect hotel' in the Toronto Star [or one of the other 22 newspapers that carry my column]?  Seriously, this has been so much fun.  Lots of people have been in touch who want to build one for themselves.


Once people learn how useful it is to attract beneficial insects to their yard, plus frogs, turtles, voles, salamanders, birds and the like, they get quite excited about this idea.  

When I showed my friend Jeff H my new insect hotel he said, "you know, about 30% of our Canada AM viewers will have no idea of what we just talked about."  Which was his way of saying that this is an amazing, revolutionary concept that will take a while for people to digest.  I get that Jeff.  

I also get that you may be one of the 30%, but you know what?  When you DO get it you will want to hire me to come to your P.E.I. home and build YOU an insect hotel.   All in great fun, of course.  Serious fun. 

Ted's Tomato Sauce

I made a huge mistake this spring that I am paying for now: I sowed 50 tomato seeds that came in packets erroneously labeled 'San Morano' [paste] tomatoes.


They germinated, grew into large plants and produced an abundant crop of 'grape' tomatoes.  Not much good for making tomato paste or sauce!  My buddy Ted Muktar at Mother's Deli in Unionville is going to have to procure his tomatoes elsewhere this season which is such a shame.  He just renovated his cook/deli and is so ready to get to work!


The good news is that I have a record crop of fresh garlic, which is his for the taking.  Plus 'Banana' potatoes, sweet peppers, beets and heritage carrots.  Ted turns my produce into a wonderful work of food-art, sells it in his deli and together we donate the proceeds to the local food bank.  

We enjoy this arrangement and have a lot of fun with it.  Please go see Ted for the latest and buy some of his tomato sauce, even if it does not include my tomatoes.  Next year for sure!!!

Parents' Rewards

September, for parents of school aged children, is bittersweet.  Gone are the days when you would joyfully walk your kids to the park, local amusements, grandparent's place and virtually everywhere that you went during the summer.  Your charges are now in the hands of professionals, at school.  You, on the other hand, deserve a break. 


Allow me to suggest that you indulge yourself in some colour: asters, hardy mums, turtle head and sedum perennials.  Ornamental grasses.  They are in your local garden retailer for you to purchase, take home and enjoy. 


Enjoy indeed: we have about 8 to 10 weeks of outdoor gardening to go for this year.  Enjoy it to the fullest.  You have earned it.



Merchant of Beauty

Things To Do in Your Garden

-  Dig and divide peonies [best time of year for this], hostas and day lilies. Move divisions around your garden or give them away: make new friends 

-  Pick veggies as they become ripe: September is 'tomato' month.

-  Sow quality, Canadian Golfgreen grass seed on thin patches of your lawn or start a new lawn.  Best month to do it all year!

-  Bring tropical plants inside, before evening temperatures dip below 7 or 8 degrees c.  

-  Prune back perennials that bloomed over a month ago by about �

-  Prune cedar hedges

-  Plant: September 24th is National Tree Day.  Plant a tree. Celebrate and protect a heritage tree.  Hug a tree.  Go to For details of events across the country.  Home Hardware sponsors over 100 such events.

-  Cut flowers and bring them inside.  Give excess away and make more new friends. 

-  Attend local garden events: check out your community garden club, hort society and activities in local public parks.  Do it while you can!  Hockey season will be here soon enough and it will be hard to get off the couch.

Keep in touch!  

August Photo Contest - Winners

Last month I ran a contest and asked you to submit a photo of your garden.  20 winners were chosen based on the 'most liked' photos.


Thank you to everyone who submitted a photo.  And thank you to all who 'voted' for their favourite photo. You can view all of the photos here.


20 winners received a copy of The Harrowsmith Almanac Gardening Digest. 

Harrowsmith's Almanac Contest
Harrowsmith's Almanac is famous for its home-grown editorials on country living in Canada with a modern twist.  Written by Canadians for Canadians who currently live the country life, aspire to someday or simply want a little country in their urban lifestyle.

Subscribing to Harrowsmith's Almanac just got even better!  A subscription now includes print and digital editions of the Almanac, Gardening Digest and two new bonus magazines: Harrowsmith Homes and My Kind of Town.

There is a special introductory offer that gives readers digital access to all 4 magazines free so it's the best time to take advantage of the three-year better deal offer.



Contest: Visit which has a "click here" button to subscribe.  

One winner will be chosen every other week in September, from those who subscribe through the online store.  The winners will receive their subscription at no cost.


Please make sure you enter this special promo code into the notes area on shopify and you will entered in the contest.   The promo code is: Mark Cullen 09-14

Mark's Choice Product of the Month
Burlap Gardening Tote

The Mark's Choice product development team had a lot of fun developing this one.  

This tote makes weeding, clean up, and harvest easier and with less mess.  

The shoulder strap keeps your hands free, and the side pockets are perfect for pruners, hand tools, and - if you must - cell phones.

This is another example of a unique product that fits a specific need in the garden.


Home Hardware # 5011-800

Stay in Touch

- 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.   

A Simple Message at Harvest Time 

A 2 1/2 minute video worth watching. 


Inglorious fruits & vegetables.


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.


North York Garden Club 
Annual Flower & Vegetable Show and Cafe

Date: September 6

Time: 2-5pm

Location: Edithvale Community Centre. 131 Finch Avenue West, North York


Enjoy a beautiful display of garden flowers, floral arrangements, fruit and vegetables, roses and houseplants.   As the North York Garden Club celebrates its 90th anniversary the theme for this year's show is Decades of the Past 90 Years.


More info. 

Corn Roast - Hosts Ray and Ellen Thomson



Date: September 7

Time: 3-7pm

Location: Raefield Farm.  5231 Wellington County Rd. #27, north of Rockwood, ON


Supporting SHARE Scholarship Fund.  Donation to help needy teens in Belize go to high school.  Come rain or shine.  Bring friends.  Eat, drink, visit, swim, relax in the country on a working dairy farm.  Bring a lawn chair.

More info.

Ashbridge Estate Tree Tour

LEAF Date: September 9

Time: 6:00-8:00pm

Cost: $5 suggested donation

Location: Ashbridge Estate. 1444 Queen St. E.

Come explore the living heritage of historic Ashbridge Estate, a two-acre oasis in Toronto's east end.  Learn about conservation arboriculture techniques used today to maintain the beautiful old trees on the property.

More info.

North York Garden Club 



Front Garden Contest Presentations


Date: September 11

Location: Edithvale Community Centre. 131 Finch Avenue West, North York


The North York Garden Club had a total of 113 gardens nominated for the fourth annual North York Great Front Garden Contest.

More info. 

Ontario Rock Garden & Hardy Plant Society  


Plant Sale

Date: September 14

Time: Early Fall Plant Sale 12:30pm. Presentation 1:30pm

Location: Toronto Botanical Garden. 777 Lawrence Ave. East


Guest Speaker: John Massey.  Owner of Ashwood Nurseries, England.  John will treat us to a Spring stroll through his private three acre garden at Ashwood Nurseries.  Hepatica specialist.


More info. 

The Hamilton & Burlington Rose Society  



Rose Society

Date: September 14

Time: 2:00pm

Location: The Royal Botanical Gardens Centre (room #3)


Speaker: Kevin Beagle.  Topic: Growing lavender among roses.

Everyone is welcome.  No entrance fee.

More info.

Heritage Tree - Preserving our Natural Roots



Edith George Date: September 16

Time: 7-9pm

Location: Riverdale Farm meeting room. 201 Winchester Street, Toronto


Presented by Edith George.  Advisor, Ontario Urban Forest Council

Ancient trees have stories to tell. In fact, we can hear them speak if we listen quietly.

Beach Garden Society



Date: September 16

Time: 7:15pm - 9:00pm

Location: Adam Beck Community Centre.  79 Lawlor Ave., Toronto

Presentation: All about herbs & how to use them!

Presentation by Richter's Herbs


New members and guests welcome - come early and enjoy informal discussions with members or check out our Library.

More info.

The Brandon Garden Club



Creating Fairy Gardens


Date: September 17

Time: 7:00pm

Location: Don Glen Hall at The Park Avenue Activity Centre.  311 Park Ave. East, Brandon Manitoba


Plant Swap: bring one, take one

AND bring in your Best Fall Arrangement - prizes to be won!

More info. 

Nepean Horticultural Society




Parking Lot Plant Sale


Date: September 18

Time: 5-7pm

Location: City View United Church. 6 Epworth Ave., Nepean


Plants from NHS members' gardens, ready to be planted - followed by Guest Speaker Greta Kryger.  Greta's Organic Gardens "Seed Saving".

Everyone welcome.  Non-members $4

More info. 

Bobcaygeon & District Horticultural Society




Date: September 18

Time: 7:00pm

Location: Knox Presbyterian Church Hall


Fall Planters: Vikki Whitney

More info.

Fall Surplus Plant & Shrub Sale 



Beausejour Daylily Gardens

Beausejour Daylily Gardens

Date: September 20

Time: 9:00am - 1:00pm

Location: Beausejour Daylily Gardens. 1st Street North, MB


Fall time is a very good time to plant perennials and shrubs in your gardens. You know where the holes are, and you can fill them in giving the plants enough time to settle in before winter.( Mulching and a good watering is  recommended.)


More info.

Friends of Gardens Manitoba   


Fall Plant Sale


Date: September 20

Time: 9:00am - 1:00pm

Location: CMU North Campus. 500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB

Selection of spring bulbs, over 1000 ordered.  Perennials for fall planting.  Assorted shrubs.

More info.

Misseto Bonsai Club - Show



Date: September 22

Time: 10am-4:30pm

Location: Sheridan Nurseries, 2069 Burnhamthorpe Rd. E., Mississauga, ON


This event features approximately 40 trees from our club members. Live demonstration will be available.

More info.

South Saskatchewan Lily Society




Bulb Sale
Date: September 27

Time: 9am to 5:30pm

Location: Golden Mile Shopping Centre, Regina, SK

More info.

Dan Cooper:Low-Maintenance Gardening



Dan Cooper

OHA District 18 Fall Workshop

Date: September 27

Time: 10am

Location: Novar Community Centre, north of Huntsville on Hwy. 11


Milne House Garden Club

Date: September 30

Time: 10am

Location: Toronto Botanical Garden, Floral Hall


More info.

Harvest Day



Toronto Botanical Garden

Date: September 27

Time: noon - 4pm

Location: Toronto Botanical Garden. 777 Lawrence Ave. East


Celebrate fall with TBGKids!  Sip cider, plant bulbs and enjoy some family-briendly garden activities.  Make crafts with Discoverability and harvest veggies from the Teaching Garden for the North York Harvest Food Bank.


More info.

Garden Tour   


The Persian Gardens and Treasures of Iran: Roses and Pomegranates, Pistachios and Pines


Jill Cherry, former Director of VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, Toronto Parks and Forestry, and the gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK, will be leading this exciting tour of the gardens of Iran. 

Organized through Bestway Tours and Safaris of Vancouver, this small group tour runs from May 2nd, 2015 for 15 days, at the peak of orange tree and rose blossom time. 

Since the Persian Garden is so embedded in the culture of Iran the tour will also take in all the major classical historical sites including palaces, mosques, mud-brick towns and ancient ruins, most of which are World Heritage Sites. 

Several days will be spent in the magical cities of Isfahan, Shiraz and Yazd and the tour will trace the development of the Persian Garden from 6th century BCE through to the present day.


More info.

Places on the tour will be limited so early enrolment is advised.