October 2014
Mark Cullen e-newsletter
Gardening with Mark
In This Issue
Things To Do
Fall Photo Contest
Spring-Flowering Bulbs
Birding Tips
Fall is for Planting
Stay in Touch



Gardening Connections

Home Hardware 
Toronto Star 
Ottawa Citizen  
CTV Canada AM 
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Last BIG Month


I am just back from the 50th anniversary celebratory Home Hardware dealer market and I am exhausted and exhilarated.  4,500 dealers, family and staff converge on the small town of St. Jacobs in Ontario [just north of Waterloo] to walk the extensive trade show, network, attend seminars and learn in a myriad of ways how to build their businesses.  It is a privilege for me to be a part of this twice yearly event.


In spite of a slow start to the gardening season dealers reported a great season in their lawn and garden department.  From B.C. to Newfoundland to Nunavut the message was optimistic and encouraging. 


I hope that you feel the same way about your gardening experience.   Yes, it was wet in much of the country [and excessively dry on coastal B.C. and Vancouver Island].  It was late getting started and the summer was punctuated by regular rain fall from Ontario to the east.  The Prairies were wet and sometimes overly so.  Most of the country enjoyed cooler than normal evening temperatures. 


All of this is to say that the gardening season of 2014 will go down in the history books as weird and wonderful at the same time.  My tomatoes crash landed about 3 weeks ago, succumbing to early blight.  My carrots and leeks are continuing to grow and provide an ongoing harvest that is wonderfully sweet. 


My trees and shrubs have never grown so much in one season as they have this summer: they LOVED this weather.

Things To Do

And now it is October:  the last full-on gardening month on the calendar for most of us.  And lots to do. 


Here is my list of reminders:


- After the first serious frost, dig up your dahlias and lay the 'bulbs' [tubers] in the sun to dry for a day or two.  Store in a large, craft paper leaf bag with dry peat moss or shredded newspaper in a cool but DRY place.   Plan to plant them up in March for a repeat performance next season.


Dig and divide perennials.  Hostas, peonies, daylilies: these are the top 3 but there are many others.  This is a great time of year to 'clean up' your perennials by removing portions that are overgrown.  Cut back the foliage of the ones that you want to keep.


Do not cut back fall flowering ornamental grasses, coneflower, rudebeckia and all of the autumn flowering plants that produce a seed head.  The birds will forage the seeds well past the first snow fall.


Plant fall flowering mums, kale, cabbage [which looks best after a few frosts] and asters. 


Plant spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, crocus and the like and keep in mind that if you don't plant them they will not surprise you with colour next spring.  They always surprise me come spring 'cause I always forget where I planted them and how many.  Soooo nice!!


Check out my collection of spring flowering bulbs, including these special collectons:  100 Days of Flowers, Deer & Squirrel Resistant, Canadian Tulip Garden, and Naturalizing Daffodil & Crocus.  See below for more details. 


- Bring in your tropical plants.  Now.  Don't leave this until frost arrives... too late!  Clean them and consider repotting the root-bound ones. 


- Harvest apples and pears... or go to a pick-your-own farm for the experience.


- Ditto pumpkins [pick-your-own] and don't leave it out for the garbage people to pick up... cut it up with a sharp spade or shovel and put it in your compost.  Or dig it into your garden soil.


- Fertilize your lawn with Golfgreen Fall Lawn Fertilizer.  It is the most important application you will make all year!


- Build an insect hotel to accommodate your desirable insects.  Really.  Check it out the photo on my website and read about it in my newspaper column.  I built this one myself and I am taking reservations now.


- Feed the birds. See the special note below about my upcoming interview with the fabulous Jody Allair of Bird Studies Canada.  This guy is brilliant about birds - we can all learn so much from him! 


Breath deep, be thankful [especially at Thanksgiving], celebrate the harvest and relax.  This is going to be fun! 


Keep your knees dirty,



Merchant of Beauty 

Fall Photo Contest

This is a wonderful time of year to take photos in the garden.  Every Friday I share my garden photos on my Facebook page.  


I encourage you to keep a photo record of your garden throughout the growing season.  This will help you plan next year's projects and give you some inspiration once the snow falls.


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


The 5 photos to receive the most 'Likes' will win a copy of the 2015 Harrowsmith's Almanac. (Deadline for entry is October 8, 2014). Deadline for 'voting' is October 15, 2014.

Mark's Choice Product of the Month
Spring-Flowering Bulb Collections

100 Days of Flowers bulb collection

- 40 premium quality top sized Holland bulbs

- 7 exceptional varieties selected for Canadian gardens by Mark Cullen

- 3 Narcissus Tahiti

- 3 Tulip Red Impression

- 3 Narcissus Dutchmaster

- 3 Tulip Menton

- 3 Crocus Botanical

- 10 Allium Purple Sensation

- 15 Grape Hyacinth

Home Hardware item# 5029-215


Deer & Squirrel Resistant Bulb Collection

- 50 premium quality top sized Holland bulbs

- 4 varieties selected for Canadian gardens

- 10 Narcissus Tete a Tete

- 5 Hyacinths Pink Pearl

- 20 Glory of the Snow

- 15 Grape Hyacinth

Home Hardware item# 5029-174.


Canadian Tulip Garden Bulb Garden

- 28 premium quality top sized Holland bulbs

- 4 exceptional varieties selected for Canadian gardens

- 7 Vancouver tulips

- 7 Quebec tulips

- 7 The Mounties tulips

- 7 Toronto tulips

Home Hardware item# 5029-172


Naturalizing Daffodil & Crocus Bulb Collection

- 40 premium quality top sized Holland bulbs

- 4 exceptional varieties selected for Canadian gardens

- 6 Carlton

- 6 Slim Whitman

- 6 Ice King

- 22 Crocus Tom Ruby Giant

Home Hardware item# 5029-175

Birding Tips

This is the most important time of year to fill the feeders if you want to encourage the songbirds to stick around.


Feeding the birds will draw your attention to the bird houses where the swallows and sparrows and the like raised a brood or two this season: let me remind you to remove the nests before winter so that a nice clean house is theirs for the nesting come spring.


Last fall I asked my friend Jody Allair, of Bird Studies Canada, for advice on how to clean out bird houses.

Here is what he said:

1. Clean out bird nests in fall, if the birds are finished nesting.

2. Make sure to use gloves

3. Be careful not to inhale any of the dust as it will contain dried up feces.

4. Place the nest material in a garbage bag, seal it and dispose of it fairly quickly.

5. Don't use any bleach or other chemical cleaner on the inside of the nest box.

6. Consider registering for the Project Nest Watch next spring and help us monitor nesting birds across Canada.


Thanks Jody!


For more information about Bird Studies Canada, check out this great article in the current issue of Home at Home magazine.

Fall is for Planting

Fall is the ideal time for planting trees, shrubs and perennials. Cooler air temperatures mean plants are not stressed by heat and humidity. Garden soil is still warm which allows the root system to continue growing.


Finish planting at least 6 weeks prior to the ground freezing to allow plants the opportunity to establish a healthy root system.



- Plant perennials at the same depth as they are in containers.

- Spread a layer of shredded cedar bark mulch to insulate root systems and conserve moisture.

- Water new plants deeply to reach the entire root ball.

- Apply a transplant fertilizer to encourage root growth. Do not use fertilizers with a high concentration of nitrogen as this will encourage plant growth instead of root growth. I recommend a 5-15-5 liquid transplanter for quick feeding.

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.   

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.


The Butchart Gardens - Autumn
British Columbia

As warm days transition to crisp nights, a stunning parade of red, russet and golden maples make their mark at The Gardens.  


It's the best time to visit the tranquility of the Japanese Garden before winter arrives.

More info.

Manitoba Regional Lily Society 


Fall Bulb Sale


Date: October 4

Time: 9:00am-4:00pm

Location: Central Community Centre. 529 4th Street, Brandon, MB


This year's bulb sale will feature many species including Lilium pardalinum, Lilium pumilum, Lilium lechtlinii and Lilium regale to mention only a few. Other feature bulbs will be new doubles varieties and a selection of new pot and border lilies. Also included in the sale will be a great selection of Martagon lilies, Orientpet lilies, Asiatics and LAs. Members of the MRLS will be on hand to help you make your selections and answer all your lily questions. See you all there!


More info.

Milne Hollow: A Natural History Walking Tour

Date: October 5

Time: 1:30-3:30pm

Location: Lawrence Avenue East and Don Valley Parkway Meet at the picnic tables by the parking lot at the end of Old Lawrence Avenue.


Registration recommended.


This walk through the quiet ravine of Milne Hollow will reveal the layers of industrialization and renaturalization that have shaped its landscape over the years.  Discover how railways and expressways, flooding and invasive species have impacted the area throughout Toronto's history and how recent stewardship efforts have helped preserve this important natural landscape.


More info. 

Pine Ridge Garden Club



Plant sale

Monthly Meeting with Charlie Dobbin


Date: October 7

Time: 7:30pm

Location: Nestleton Hall, 3971 Hwy. 7a, Nestleton


All will be most welcome.  Charlie Dobbin, a noted Horticulturist and Landscape Designer, speaking on "How to Garden Better in a Changing Climate".   This is also a fund raising evening where Members' desserts are judged.  After judging you can have your choice of dessert and beverage for $3.


More info.

Bobcaygeon & District Horticultural Society


Date: October 16

Time: 5:30-6:30pm - Photographic Competition. 

7:00pm - Wine, Cheese, and Awards

Location: Anglican Church. 43 Sherwood St.

More info.

The Historic Gardens of Annapolis Royal 

Nova Scotia  


Historic Gardens

Ghostly Gardens... After Dark!


Date: October 17-31

The Historic Gardens will take on an amazing transformation in late October in celebration of Ghost Town.  The Ghostly Gardens by daylight, or better yet, join us after dark. For six special evenings (Fri-Sun), you are invited to experience these Ghostly Gardens After Dark. 


Enter the Witch's Lair to see how she lives, gather around the Bonfire and share Ghost Stories, grab a lantern and check out the awesome creatures inhabiting the Gardens, and become a Halloween archeologist in our Bone Dig.  Lots of fun for the whole family!

More info.


Beaverton Horticultural Society  



Date: October 23

Time: 7:30pm

Location: St. Paul's Anglican Church. 383 Osborne Street, Beaverton 


Guest Speaker: Roger Hill from Hill's Florist.

Topic: "Growing Healthy, Happy Houseplants"


The Great Pumpkin Trail  



Date: October 23 and 24

Times: 6:15pm, 6:30pm, 6:45pm, 7:00pm. 7:15pm, 7:30pm

Kid-free times: 7:45pm, 8:00pm

Location: Royal Botanical Gardens. Hendrie Park

Fee: $40/family (up to 4), $15/individual (Members 10% off)


It's a magical evening on the Pumpkin Trail!  Hundreds of jack-o-lanterns light your way along our garden and woodland trail.  Enjoy live entertainment, face painting and pumpkin-themed activities, while sipping a warm harvest drink.

Register now!

More info.

Halloween Howl



Date: October 26

Time: 1-3pm

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


Try out your Halloween costume during an afternoon of spooky scavenger hunts, tantalizing treats and a light-hearted look at Halloween's creepy critters.  Adult accompaniment and registration required.

Public: $10, Members: $7


More info.

Still Bloomin' Gardening Club




Date: October 30

Time: 1:00-3:00pm

Location: Grace Christian Church, 50 Barnes Street, Winnipeg, MB


Presenter: Living Prairie Museum - to provide awareness & conservation of natural areas.

$2 member drop-in fee, $3 for guests

More info.