May 2015
Mark Cullen e-newsletter
Gardening with Mark
In This Issue



Gardening Connections

Join Our Mailing List

Garden Days and Education


To say that May is the most exciting month on the gardening calendar is a bit of an understatement.  I find this May is the most exciting month on my gardening calendar EVER.  I hope that you can share my enthusiasm.

Here is why:

1. The Birds are Back 

My tree swallows are flying outside of my home-office window to beat the band and I thrill at their sight every day. 


Mom and Dad swallows are pairing up and staking their claim to nesting boxes in my 10 acre garden.  I have 28 boxes to choose from: plenty for everyone.  My place is like a bird-convention in Vegas.  Without the gambling and expensive night shows on the strip.  

2. My daffodils are officially in bloom.


It becomes official when I cut them and start bringing them indoors and giving them away.  


I have 20,000 in bloom so I can afford to be generous. The show continues for a month or so.  Who needs Vegas?  

3. My veggie garden is underway.


In April I sowed over 400 tomatoes.  Don't ask me why I did this: I sow what I have on hand.  Can't waste a seed!  But I only have room for 200 in the garden.  I will be giving a few seedlings away.  It is the experience that counts!  


I love my time in the greenhouse this time of year, especially when the sun is shining and the wind blowing.  Last week I sowed my onion sets, carrots, beets and peas directly in the garden.  You can sow yours too, if the ground is thawed out. 

4. My lawn is outrageously green.


We introduced the new Golfgreen Iron plus lawn fertilizer at Home Hardware this spring, with a guarantee that it will provide a visibly greener lawn in 72 hours.


I spread 8 bags of the stuff two weeks ago and guess what, it works like magic!  Exclusive to Home Hardware

5. "Can we use your videos?" 

An executive from a Horticultural Society asked if they could use my 6 part video series at an upcoming meeting.  


Each topic is covered in about 4 minutes for a total of about 20 minutes of quality viewing.  To the point, catching all of the important highlights of each topic, nicely produced and shot on location at the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Toronto Star did a great job of putting our first video series together.


They are free (Click here) and include topics like 'Container gardens', 'The greenest lawn on your block', 'Attracting Pollinators', 'Water Conservation' and 'Soil Preparation'.

And if you belong to a garden club or bridge club or whatever, the videos are yours to access as you please and show to the gang.  Go for it.  


With credit to my friends at the Toronto Star, Premier Tech Home & Garden [our sponsor] and Mark Cullen [].  

6. Garden Days 

OK, this is not happening in May, but it is big.  Our second year that the Nation of Canada celebrates gardens and all of the benefits that they provide.


This year, your street can win a $1,000 Mark's Choice gift card from Home Hardware.  

Details here.  

Celebrate Garden Days June 19 to 21.  

7. Canada AM

My buddy, Jeff Hutcheson, and I have lots of great segments planned for May.


Monday, May 11th, I broadcast live from the Ottawa Tulip Festival at 7:45 a.m. [note: time and day change!] and every Wednesday after that my segment airs at 8:45 a.m.


We will be shooting in my garden, a couple of live segments from the Canada AM/Home Hardware Deck and we hope to get into the city to shoot some 'urban gardening' segments later in the month and in June.  Stay tuned!  

And note that you can see our videos 24/7 and read my blog weekly at     

8. Public Events 

May [and early June] is my heaviest travel month with Home Hardware.  I look forward to this time with great anticipation and invite you to join me wherever I happen to be.   

Here is the latest:


May 12 - Orillia Home Hardware Ladies Night. 7pm

May 16 - JL's Home Hardware Building Centre, Guelph, ON. 11am - 1pm

May 22 - Wellesley Fish Fry. Community Fundraiser. Wellesley,ON. Contact Wellesley Home Centre for tickets.

May 23 - Wellesley Home Centre event. 11am.

May 30 - Sooke Home Hardware event. 11am. Sooke,BC

June 2 - Invermere Home Hardware Ladies Night. Invermere, BC

June 3 - Three Hills Home Hardware Building Centre. 1pm. Three Hills, AB

June 4 - B & M Home Hardware Building Centre.Olds,AB 

June 6 - Lamont Home Hardware. Lamont, AB

Am I excited that it is May?

Indeed I am.


One more thing...remember the Ride To Conquer Cancer in support of the Princess Margaret Hospital that I am participating in June 13 and 14?  You have astounded me!  


Almost 100 donations have come in through this newsletter.   YOU have shown your generosity and I am so proud of you and my three 'ride-mates' [daughters Emma, Heather, son Ben and son-in law-Martin].   Thanks to you, we have raised almost $3,500.


And then along comes an anonymous donor who has pledged $1,200 for every additional dollar raised this month.  So if you donate $25 or $50 [or whatever] your donation will be matched up to $1,200. 


Not only that, but I will send you a gift if you donate $25 or more: 

Lawn & Garden Secrets


a copy of my book 'Lawn and Garden Secrets' book 





OR a copy of the book that I wrote about WWII veteran Hugh Beaty 'Extra Ordinary' 




Donate $50 or more, and we will include 4 packets of my Mark's Choice vegetable seeds.  I am delighted to do this as a way of expressing my appreciation to you.  

Together we can beat cancer!  Just think of all of the advances that have been made in the field of medicine in a generation and you can see the possibilities.

Visit my Sponsor Page.

Things To Do in your Garden in May 


Well, what can't you do?  OK, I didn't mean that to sound smart. 

My point is that you could easily skip your day job this month and busy yourself in your garden.



Here is a list of priorities, just to keep you focused:

  1. Plant.  While there is still a threat of frost, you can plant all of the frost-hardy plants. Trees, flowering shrubs, evergreens, roses, perennials: you name it.  Just not vegetables and annual flowers that are tender. 
  2. Remember Mothers Day.  Plant a magnolia [zone 4] to bloom each year on Mothers Day [or thereabouts]. What a great reminder to Mom that you love her!  Mothers Day is May 9th.
  3. Sow flower and vegetable seeds.  All of them [as we approach the frost-free period, which is different for each growing zone].  Consult the planting guide on my website.  Check out my 12 hand-picked vegetable seeds at Home Hardware.  Great taste and garden performance! 
  4. Attract hummingbirds and bees [pollinators!]: sunflowers, cardinal flower, monarda, Echinacea and more [watch the video].
  5. Build up your soil.  Remember that good soil is the foundation of all great gardens.  Dig in a 20 kg bag of Bio Max cattle/steer manure for every sq. meter of garden.  This enriches the existing soil and adds valuable nutrients and microbes.  Your garden will thrive.  Without it, not so much. [watch the video]
  6. Remove existing soil from containers, toss it in your garden [or give it away to a gardener if you live in a high-rise] and replace with quality container mix.  I recommend Mark's Choice container mix, exclusive to Home Hardware.  It works like magic!
  7. Fertilize your lawn with Golfgreen Iron Plus for a visibly greener lawn in 72 hours.  Really!  This is the most sophisticated lawn fertilizer on the Canadian market.  Bar none.  I put my name and ugly mug on the bag for this reason. 


And by the way, that is a real, live weightlifter in the TV commercials. I am such a shrimp! 

Have fun Love your time outdoors, love the sun and the warmth and love connecting with Mother Nature.

Mark Cullen

Merchant of Beauty    

Selfie Contest 

Win a copy of the Harrowsmith Gardening Digest


The first 20 people to send me a selfie photo with a bag of Golfgreen Iron Plus, or Golfgreen Lawn Fertilizer, will receive a copy of the Harrowsmith Gardening Digest.  

Email the photo to [email protected].  Please include your mailing address.


I will post all of the photos on my Facebook page.


Deadline for entry: May 6, 2015

Product of the Month 

Golfgreen Iron Plus

I'm so excited about this product I want to feature it again this month.  

If you applied Golfgreen Iron Plus to your lawn last month, let me know what you think. 

Email your comments to [email protected].


The new Golfgreen Iron Plus is an exclusive formula to Home Hardware.


With 10 times the amount of iron in our previous formula the greening effect on your lawn is extraordinarily fast.  The chelated 'form' of iron in the new Golfgreen is such that your lawn will take it up efficiently and effectively.  Not all forms of iron are so easily 'ingested' by grass plants!  And my new iron formula does not stain patios, decks or any hard surfaces as other forms of iron can. 


The new Golfgreen Iron plus still contains a slow release nitrogen formula for a greener lawn, longer.  The sulphur coated urea in the new Golfgreen releases nitrogen for up to an 8 week period as temperatures rise, rain falls and microbial activity in the soil increases. 

It is my view that Golfgreen Iron plus is the most sophisticated lawn fertilizer formula on the consumer market in Canada.

It is made in Canada too. 

(HH item# 5024-512)

Birding Reminders 


Hummingbird season is almost here.  In fact, some have already seen the 'common-to-eastern-Canada' Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. This is just a friendly reminder to not only put out your hummingbird feeders this year, but to plant for the tiny birds as well.  Choose plants that are best-suited to the long-billed traveller by looking at the shape of the flower. Tubular is best and red is a bonus. 


Here is a short list of plants you'll be able to easily pick up at the garden centre: beebalm, cardinal flower, red morning glory, the native yellow and red columbine, lupine, delphinium, and flowering tobacco (which you may find in red).  Of course, this list is not exhaustive.  Look for plants that work well with your conditions (and native, if possible).  Keep your feeders filled with dye-free sugar water and clean it out once a week. 

Mark Cullen Approved Garden Centres 

Congratulations to our 4 new members. 


ALL of these Mark Cullen Approved Home Hardware stores carry Canadian grown, quality garden plants and an extraordinary level of customer service.  While the selection varies by store and region [as it should!] I endorse them all as quality plants, many of which I grow in my own 10 acre garden.


I am proud to have my name on each of these stores!  

Look for Mark Cullen Approved Home Hardware Garden Centres across the country.  22 in all! 

Our Mark's Choice Growers are Sheridan Nurseries [Ontario, east to Newfoundland] and By Lands Nurseries [Manitoba west to B.C.]


New members:

Sooke Home Hardware -Sooke, BC

Wellesley Home Hardware Building Centre - Wellesley, ON
B & M Home Hardware Building Centre - Olds, AB
Lamonte Home Hardware - Lamonte, AB

Visit a Mark Cullen Approved Garden Centre near you.

A Seed Library Grows in Regent Park 

Libraries may be the ideal environment of the bookworm, but could they be a home for real worms too? What if libraries sprouted more than just facts, but food? 

On April 14, the Regent Park Community Food Centre launched their first seed library in support of their community garden program, celebrating the start of the new growing season in conjunction with the start of the Bengali and Tamil new year. 

Music, art, and dancing brought the community together to learn more about the Bengali and Tamil culture, with food as the main draw: as Ashrafi Ahmed, Community Gardens Coordinator, noted: "Food catches the people and brings them in."

Read more

(Source: Community Food Centres Canada)

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.


Events from West Coast to East Coast :

The Butchart Gardens
Brentwood Bay, BC

Spring is an exciting time at The Gardens. Come witness thousands of flowering bulbs, shrubs and trees bursting forth. It's the perfect time to take in fresh colours and to breathe refreshing scents.


More info.
VanDusen Botanical Garden
Vancouver, BC

All British Classic Car Show - ABFM


Date: May 17

Time: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Location: Great Lawn.

Known as The Greatest Show On British Wheels, this annual event attracts 6,000 visitors and 600 classic cars with food vendors, brass band music, British goods vendors and lots of nostalgia for all the family.

Special Admission Prices: Adult $16.00, Senior $13.00, Child $8.00, Youth $13.00, Family $32.00, Adult Members $13.00, Family Members $26.00

NOTE: Regular Garden is open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. -- except in the area of the Great Lawn, where the special event is taking place.

More info.

Muttart Conservatory 

Edmonton, AB

Muttart Conservatory


Annual Conservatory Plant Sale


Dates: May 21 - 23

Cost: No Admission

The annual bedding plant sale takes place in the greenhouse at the Muttart Conservatory. Please come to the greenhouse to purchase your bedding plants.

More info. 

Compost Day at Harvest

Winnipeg, MB


Date: May 6

Time: 10:30am

Location: 1085 Winnipeg Ave.

Winnipeg Harvest and Green Manitoba invite you to a special event.

Get the dirt on green initiatives at Winnipeg Harvest this summer.  Green Manitoba is supporting Winnipeg Harvest make our facility and community garden even more environmentally friendly than ever begore.

Please RSVP to Jason

Royal Botanical Garden

Burlington, ON  


Cherry Blossoms By The Light Of The Moon

Date: May 2nd

Time: 7 to 9 p.m.

Location: The Arboretum

Fee: $35 (Members 10% off)Maximum 20.

Hanami is an important Japanese custom and literally means viewing cherry blossoms. This custom has been celebrated for centuries. RBG is taking up the torch and adding cherry blossoms to our already popular Moonlight Series. It is a magical experience when the cherry blooms are out. Join us for this enchanting evening.

Register online.

Compost Council of Canada

Toronto, Ontario


Feed the Soil


Date: May 5

Time: 1pm (come early for soup, courtesy of Soupalicious Toronto)

Location: 1075 Bay St, Toronto.  Meet us in the Backyard Garden

On the occasion of the International Year of Soils and International Compost Awareness Week, please join us in the backyard of the office of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Gord Miller, and help us dig in and spread the Compost to Feed the Soil.


More info.

Friends of the Central Experimental Farm
Ottawa, ON 

Date: May 5. Master Gardener lecture - Rejuvenating a Tired Garden with Mary Reid.  Step-by-step approach to renovate your garden.

Date: May 10. Rare and unusual Plant Sale.  New and returning specialty growers and plant vendors plus new products.  Master gardenders ready to answer gardening questions.

Date: May 19. Master Gardener lecture - Plant for Continuous Garden Joy with Judith Cox.  Maintaining colour and creating interest throughout the seasons.

Date: May 23. Lilac Walk Tour.  Take a guided tour with the Friends' Lilac Team and discover many varieties of lilacs and their history at the CEF.

More info. 
The Great Toronto Tree Hunt
Toronto, ON 

On April 22, LEAF launched The Great Toronto Tree Hunt - contest to find and share the greatest trees in our city.  

"The goal of this project is not only to have fun and celebrate the important trees in our lives, but also to send the message that Toronto values its trees - in all their diverse beauty", says Janet McKay, Executive Director at LEAF.


Nominations will be accepted online until May 31, 2015.

More info.

Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society   

Toronto, ON

Plant Sale

Date: May 3

Time: 11am-3pm

Location: Toronto Botanical Garden, Garden Hall.  777 Lawrence Ave. E.

Beautifully grown plants, rare and familiar, from our members' gardens.  Donations from well-established and respected horticultural companies.  Members' seed-grown specialty plants: perennial, annual and tropical.

More info.

The Auxiliary of Royal Botanical Gardens

Dundas, ON  

Plant Sale


Dates: May 7-9

Location: Arboretum, Old Guelph Road, Dundas

39th Annual Spring Plant Sale.  You will find: specialty annuals, herbs, veggies, hostas, ferns, perennials, shrubs, iris, peonies and hemerocallis from RBG's collection.


More info. 

North American Native Plant Society

Markham, ON  

Native Plant Sale


Date: May 9

Time: 10am-3pm

Location: Markham Civic Centre, 101 Town Centre Blvd

Discover the wonder and beauty of native plants.  The plant list and member online ordering are available at  Our sale showcases hundreds of native species and introduces thousands of native plants into GTA gardens.


More info.

Artists in the Garden

Oshawa, ON 

Hearth Place Plant Sale


Date: May 9

Time: 8:30am-1pm

Location: 86 Colborne St. W., Oshawa

5th Annual Hearth Place Plant Sale.  Stop by and pick up annuals, perennials and herb plants for your garden.  All plants range in price from $1 to $5.  All funds raised during this event support programs offered at Hearth Place - Durham Region's only cancer support center.

More info.

Nepean Horticultural Society

Nepean, ON  


Spring flower Show


Date: May 9

Time: 1-4pm

Location: Nepean Museum, 16 Rowley Avenue

Nepean Horticultural Society exhibits of members Spring flower Show.  Come and enjoy a variety of flowers/plants judged for prizes by the Society.

More info.  613-228-0153 or 613-224-7184


Annual Plant Auction/Sale


Date: May 21

Time: 6:30pm

Location: City View United Church, 6 Epworth Avenue

Annual plant auction / plant sale.  Cash only.  Enjoy a fun evening.  Everyone welcome.  Free admission.  Light refreshments.

More info. 613-226-7102

Sarnia Horticultural Society - Plant Sale

Sarnia, ON  


Date: May 9

Time: 8am-1pm

Location: 1435 Windemere Cres.

35th Annual Plant Sale.  Perennials, bulbs, houseplants, shrubs, containers, garden d�cor, dozens of gardening books.  Healthy mature plants at bargain prices.  Free advice.  Donations of plants and other items are welcome.

More info. 519-332-5837

Richmond Hill Garden and Horticultural Society


Richmond Hill Garden Society

Spring Plant Sale


Date: May 9

Time: Doors open at 9:00 a.m. and close at 11:30 a.m.

Location: McConaghy Seniors' Centre, 10100 Yonge St., Richmond Hill. 

Sale items at this "Cash Only" event include: perennials & annuals; herbs & vegetables; member-grown divisions; and selected nursery grown plants.  Come early to avoid disappointment!  

More info.

Canadensis Botanical Garden Society

Ottawa, ON

Date: May 11

Location: The Chambers, Ben Franklin Place, Ottawa

A fundraising lecture for Beyond the Edge: Artists' Gardens 2015

Lecture by Ken Smith, Internationally acclaimed landscape architect from New York.

More info.

Streetsville Horticultural Society


Date: May 12

Time: 7:30-9:30pm

Location: 2630 Inlake Crt. Community Centre

Guest speaker: Diane Greenfield

Topic: Living Life as a Gardener

More info.

The Burlington Horticultural Society



General Meeting


Date: May 13

Time: 7:30pm

Location: Burlington Seniors' Centre, 2285 New St at Drury Lane

Topic: Bugs, Slugs and Other Critters.  Entomologist, Stacey Hickman, will explain how to use beneficial insects and natural products to control common pests in the garden.

North York Garden Club


Annual Plant Sale


Date: May 16

Time: 11m until sold out

Location: Willowdale Presbyterian Church, 38 Ellerslie Avenue

Perennials grown by members at exceptional prices, annuals too.  Proceeds towards community outreach programs.

More info.


Date: May 25

Time: 7:30-9:30pm

Location: The Church of St Luke Lutheran, 3200 Bayview Ave.

Speaker: Marilyn Cornwell

Topic: The Romantic Garden

More info.

Wasaga Beach Garden Club


Plant Sale


Date: May 23

Time: 8am-noon

Location: Oakview Woods Gazebo (beside the RecPlex), 1724 Mosley St.

We sell out quickly so come early for a great selection of perennials and shrubs.

More info.

Guelph-Wellington Master Gardeners



Spring Plant Sale

Date: May 23

Time: 9am-noon

Location: R.J. Hilton Centre, University of Guelph. 384 College Ave. East

Ample parking on site.  Cash & cheques accepted.

More info. 519-824-4120 ext. 56714

Etobicoke Master Gardeners



Plant Sale


Date: May 23

Time: 9am-1pm

Location: 8 Bethnal Avenue, Etobicoke

There are sun and shade plants from members' gardens, herbs and tomatoes for sale as well as planting tips and an advice clinic. 

West Carleton Garden Club - Plant Sale


Date: May 23

Time: 8am - 1pm

Location: Carp Farmers Market, Carp Fairgrounds, Carp, ON


More info.

Christ Church Stouffville - Plant Sale



Date: May 23

Time: 9am-noon

Location: Christ Church, 254 Sunset Blvd, Stouffville

Large selection ofperennials, annuals, houseplants & planters at our indoor sale.

More info.

Oshawa Garden Club - Plant Sale


Date: May 30

Time: 9am - 3pm

Location: South Oshawa Community Centre, 1455 Cedar Street.

Unique garden art will be available at reasonable prices.  Master gardeners will share their expertise. Plants available include: perennials, specialty geraniums, herbs, heirloom tomatoes, clematis, dahlias and many more all at unbeatable prices.

More info. 

The Hamilton & Burlington Rose Society


Rose Society

Date: May 31

Time: 2pm

Location: The Royal Botanical Gardens Centre, 680 Plains Road West, Burlington

2015 Rose Show Chair and Co-Chair answering questions on: How To Exhibit a Cut Rose from the Garden.  Everyone is welcome to attend.  No entrance nor parking fees.

More info.

Kids' Run for Nature

Toronto, ON

Date: June 14

Location: Withrow Park, Toronto


Jasmine and Jett have created the Kids' Run for Nature because they care about the earth and want to get kids and their families involved in their great natural community.


They want to support their environment and all the amazing species it holds while getting their bodies active and healthy and they think having a run in their local park with tons of friends and family is a great place to start!

Proceeds from the run will help World Wildlife Fund Canada protect species at risk and the spaces they call home.  Jasmine and Jett are focusing their energy on animals like Polar Bears and Caribou who are threatened or endangered in Canada .


More info.
Montreal Botanic Garden - Bird Fest
Montreal, QC

Come with family or friends for a fund day getting to know our fine feathered friends!  With the help of an identification guide and our nature interpreters, try to find and identify as many species as possible in the Biodome's five ecosystems.  Remember your binoculars!

(until May 10)

More info. 

Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens

Nova Scotia

Historic Gardens

Spring Dinner & Auction


Dates: May 24, 2015

Time: 4pm-9pm

A Community Tradition Continues! The 20th Annual Spring Dinner & Auction in support of the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens.  A spring highlight in Annapolis Royal, the evening promises great food, terrific fun, and a lot of laughs. There will be hundreds of items up for grabs, and most guests will be lucky enough to take home a treasure or two at the end of the night.

Tickets for the Spring Dinner & Auction are $40 and may be purchased until May 20 through the Gardens office (532-7018) or via the Historic Gardens Online Shop.

More info.