July 2015
Mark Cullen e-newsletter
Gardening with Mark
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For many gardeners this is the very best time of year. 

The plants are planted.

Seeds sown.

Weeds under control.

What could there possibly be left to do?


Experienced gardeners know that this question is my attempt at a humour.  There is indeed much to do out there....  I have suggestions for you, if you find yourself bored this long holiday Canada Day weekend.  But first...

But first, a celebration.


First, I am celebrating Canada's Garden Street.  The Canadian Garden Council and Communities In Bloom came together to create a contest for the finest street in Canada.  A 'garden street' where home owners and tenants, businesses and municipal workers, volunteers from local service clubs and horticultural societies all came together in an extraordinary display of pride. 


The winners: Sharon Marvin and Ildi Connor of Elmwood Avenue in Beaverton, Ontario. 


The residents on this fine street have won a $1,000 gift card from Home Hardware which they will cash-in on any Mark's Choice products that they wish.  With over 100 products in the line up, I am sure that they will find many opportunities to invest this prize 'money' to further enhance their beautiful street.


I might add that Ildi Connor found out about the contest in my Toronto Star column and applied.  I am doubly proud!

Speaking of Prizes

I won!   Gardening With Mark, my newsletter, received the 'silver' medal from the Garden Writers Association, which represents garden communicators from Canada and the United States (over 700 in all).  

I earned the prize in the e-newsletter category.  Imagine, you are currently holding in your hands (or your computer) a silver award winner.   


All silver winners move on to the 'gold medal' round at the annual symposium held in California this September.  Stay tuned.  There could be some fireworks attached to the October newsletter!


With special thanks to Brenda Hensley, my assistant.  She works hard and goes out of her way to make me look good.  This time she/we won a prize for it!  

Know a Garden Club or Horticultural Society?


The Canadian Garden Council is the organization that represents the interests of public gardens (like The Butchart Gardens in B. C. and the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens in Nova Scotia), horticultural societies and garden clubs right across the country.  They are seeking organisations of any size that wish to join.  As members you will be represented at all levels of government.


As the Chair of the Canadian Garden Council says, "One of the Council's objectives is to ensure that Canada's garden experiences receive ever-increasing awareness in your community and across the country as well as within the competitive domestic and inbound tourism marketplaces.


Please consider becoming a member and join me and the Board in making the Canadian Garden Council a success."


Annual membership starts at $50.  Go to  http://www.gardencouncil.ca/ for more information.

Time to Nurture


What is July to the gardener?  It is the most important month of nurturing on the calendar.  Pour yourself into the tasks at hand and you won't regret it at all.


Here are my suggestions:


-  Be the best supporting actor.  Your rudbeckia, hydrangeas and tomatoes all need support.  By getting your tall growing plants off the ground you prevent them from falling over in stiff wind or heavy rain, spoiling the bloom and maybe breaking the stems as they fall to the ground.  

  I recommend that you use 'link stakes' (a Mark's Choice product) for convenience and to perform the job without being visible. 


Using Link Stakes is like being a magician in the garden. Home Hardware item# 5093-640 and 5093-659. Watch the video.


- Lawn: cut high.  Cutting your lawn at 6 to 8 cm (2 � to 3 inches) is critically important this time of year.  As we move into summer, most parts of Canada become hot and dry.  Your lawn will withstand the stress of drought best if there is lots of blade length to sustain it.  Don't water your lawn if your area is in drought: let it go dry and dormant.  Come August, it will wake up slowly, as evening temperatures fall and morning dew becomes heavier.  A mulching mower pays big dividends! 


- Cut flowers as they bloom.  Don't forget to enjoy the colour of many of your flowering plants indoors at bloom time.  Cut them and bring them indoors to enjoy.


Apply Bordo copper spray to tomatoes every two weeks to prevent early and late blight. Home Hardware item# 5046-372.  Watch the video.


- Apply Green Earth garden sulphur and insecticidal soap to all fruiting plants to control insects and disease (once every 2 weeks).  Home Hardware item# 5046-407 and #5046-979.


- Cut down weeds.  Do this while they are young and not well established: it is kind of fun.  Controlling big weeds is not fun.  Use a sharpened hoe.


Prune cedar hedges, yews, other evergreens and flowering shrubs that have already bloomed.  The rule with shrubs is to prune them within 6 weeks (or so) after they bloom to maximize the blossoming period next season.  

Use a pair of Mark's Choice hedge shears.  They hold an edge, are comfortable in your hands (cushion grip), they are balanced and they look good.  Just saying.  Home Hardware item#5067-725


Sow one last crop of peas, lettuce, mesclun mix, arugula, radishes and carrots.  They will mature late in the season after the early crop is finished.


- Plant. It is perfectly appropriate to plant trees, shrubs, evergreens, roses... you name it... in July.  Just remember that the heat in this month demands a sharp eye on watering, especially after planting.  Keep the soil damp, but let it dry out about 5 cm below the surface between waterings for best results.

From a Reader 

And finally, I received an interesting e mail from a reader of this newsletter who said that it is not necessary for me to refer to my 10 acre garden or 200 tomato plants.  He said that it sounds boastful.  Well, if it sounds that way to him it may sound that way to many others and for that I apologize.


However, when Henry David Thoreau wrote 'Walden' after spending over 2 years at Walden Pond, I don't think that he hid the fact that he was on a massive tract of land, living near a gorgeous body of water.  If he was in a townhouse with a rubber lined pond his writing might not have received the attention as it did.   Thoreau's point, I believe, was not to sound boastful about his huge, natural surroundings but to express his passion for nature and a deep desire to connect with nature through his experience within the context of the wilderness. 


I am no Thoreau, but I feel very fortunate to live where I do.  And I believe that if I only had a postage stamp backyard I would enjoy it also.  Any reference to the size of my yard or the number of tomatoes that I grow is meant only to impress upon the reader just how passionate I am about plants, wildlife, birds and my desire to learn from nature.  This much Thoreau and I have in common.  Where he had the wilderness, I have my garden.


Let me impress upon you that your garden, your neighbours' garden and the public green spaces in your community have a dramatic impact on the biodiversity within miles of your place.  It makes no difference if your garden is several acres or several square meters in size:  hummingbirds and butterflies know no boundaries and are impacted by all of our activities out of doors.

One More Thing to Celebrate 

Just one more thing to celebrate:

Wednesday, July 1st is Canada Day. 

Join me in celebrating a great country: true and free.


With thanks for reading,


Mark Cullen

Merchant of Beauty

10,000 gardening questions. answered.
Photo Contest!

I enjoy touring gardens in July.  It is inspiring to see what's going on in private gardens across the country. 


I would love to see how your garden is growing this summer.


Send me a photo of your yard/garden and I will enter your name in my monthly contest.  This month I am giving away a pair of Mark's Choice hand pruners to 10 lucky winners.


These aren't just ANY hand pruners, they are a brand new item in the Mark's Choice line up and they are amazing: levered action requires less energy and power through your wrist, titanium coated cutting blade to hold the edge, a pocket sharpener and oil-dabber to keep your new pruners lubricated.  A $28 value. 


Email a photo to [email protected]. I will post all photos on my facebook page.  I will randomly select 10 winner from all entries.  Look for your photos on my Facebook page.


Deadline for submitting a photo is July 6, 2015.

Contest Winners 

Last month we gave away 4 pairs of tickets to Through the Garden Gate.

Congratulations to these 4 winners correctly identified wisteria as the 'mystery plant' in the photo:

Marian Kasala

Judy Elliott

Joan Shean

Brenda Platt

Product of the Month


Birdseed Storage Bin

This is the handiest way to keep birdseed clean, dry and mouse free!  I have one in my garage and another in my tool shed, which helps me keep my 14 bird feeders full year round.  And yes, we do have a LOT of wild birds!


-25 inch high handle for easy lifting

-Handle locks lid to prevent accidental spilling

-Extra grip under base for easy tipping

-Sturdy enough for bird seed, pet food, ice melt and more

Exclusive to Home Hardware. Item#5453-005



This is the best time of year to knock down young weeds before they grow too big.  

You will be amazed at how much you can learn in less than 2 minutes.....YES YouTube!!! 


Watch the video. 



Have you ever been sitting in your living room on a rainy summer day thinking to yourself, "Boy, I could really use an action shot of an osprey mom tending her chicks."? No, just me? It can't be just me because there's an entire website dedicated to just that. And many other birds and animals.


This can be a great learning tool for any age but kids especially.  For many of us, seeing a live animal tend their babies would be a rare, if not impossible, sight.  Today's technology has brought us closer to nature than ever before, with the hopes of fostering an appreciation for these amazing creatures. 


Take a look at the osprey and while you're there, check out some of the other live cams that have been set up across the States. 

Visit www.explore.org for the videos and more.

Never Alone Rose 


The highly anticipated Never Alone rose is available in garden centres across the country this year.  This rose in not only beautiful, with dark pink petals and deep green foliage; it also supports a worthy cause. 


Developed at the Morden Research Station in Manitoba, this rose was adopted by the Never Alone Foundation, which is committed to improving the lives of people affected by cancer.  A portion from the sale of each rose will go back to the foundation, as well as to CNLA's Heritage Fund.

More info. 

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.


You will note the many 'garden tours' listed this month in my newsletter.  There is a reason for this: Canadian gardens are looking pretty smashing in July.  What a great way to get out, experience some mind-expanding garden designs and plants that you may not be aware of otherwise.


The 'grand daddy' of all garden tours is Through the Garden Gate, which took place in June in Toronto and I want to thank everyone who showed up for a most successful weekend.  This is the most important annual fundraising activity for the Toronto Botanical Garden and your support means a great deal to all of us who love the place.


Events from West Coast to East Coast :

The Butchart Gardens
Brentwood Bay, BC

Things get even better in the summer. You'll experience dramatic floral displays during the day and subtle plays of light and shadow in the evening titled 'Night Illuminations' which operate from June 15 to September 15. From Canada Day to the Labour Day weekend you can enjoy incredible concerts and the Saturday Night Firework Show.

More info.
VanDusen Botanical Garden
Vancouver, BC

Vancouver Shade Garden Society Annual Show

Date: July 19

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

Location: Floral Hall

Admission: Free

More info. 

Muttart Conservatory - An Enchanted Quest

Edmonton, AB


Muttart Conservatory

Date: Sunday, July 12

Time: noon-4pm

Your quest will take you through the gardens of Middle Earth. You'll see bright summer annuals, a life-size Hobbit Hole and Smaug the Dragon. Adventures await everyone as we journey to another land in this fun summer event!

More info. 

Alberta Regional Lily Society



68th Annual International North American Lily Society (NALS) Lily Show

Date: July 17-19

ARLS is hosting the NALS in Calgary, Alberta and we welcome all lily enthusiasts to enter their lily stems and designs in the Show and to attend the Show.

The Floral Design presentation "Lilies in the Modern World" on Wednesday, July 15 from 3-5pm is free to the public with limited seating.

More info. 
Free Summer Contest Series in the Garden

Each Thursday, June 25 through August 27

Time: 7-8:30pm

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

Now in its fifth year, the Edwards Summer Music Series: Gardens of Song offers FREE open-air concerts on Thursday nights.

More info.
Ontario Horticultural Association
Annual Convention 

Dan Cooper

Date: July 3

Time: 1:30-2:30pm

Location: Room 212D of Redeemer University College, 777 Garner Road East, Ancaster

Guest Speaker: Dan Cooper, from 'Gardening from a Hammock'

Topic: Low-maintenance Gardening

Contact: Gord Roberts 

Niagara-on-the-Lake Horticultural Society 


24th Annual Garden Tour


This is a classic garden tour!  If you live in the area or are visiting, be sure to take it in. 

Date: July 4

Time: 10am-4pm

This self-guided tour showcases 13 gardens.  All gardens highlight horticultural transformations, from forest to garden, to lovely courtyards and creative garden styles ranging from casual to formal.

More info.

Guelph Horticultural Society


Garden Showcase tour


Date: July 5

Time: 1-5pm

Cost $10 per adult, children under 12 are free, no pets please.

Come enjoy 8 unique outdoor spaces.  There will be local artists at each location, and also musicians, refreshments and wonderful door prizes on the tour!

More info. 

Milton & District Horticultural Society


Annual Garden Tour


Date: July 5

This year's theme is "The Secret Gardens of Milton" as all 10 beautiful gardens are within urban Milton. 

Tickets: $15 at The Flower Mill at 141B Main Street in Milton, or on the day of the tour, only at the first garden at 268 Heslop Road.

More info.

Bobcaygeon Horticultural Society



19th Annual Garden Tour, Tea and Market


Date: July 11

Time: 10am-4pm

The BHS invites you to tour 7 lovely gardens, enhanced with horticultural displays, refreshments, and music.

Tour pass: $15; children under 16, free

More info. 

Campbellford and District Horticultural Society



Date: July 11

It is summertime along the canal and the tri-towns have 7 inspiring gardens for you to visit, photo, stroll and enjoy.

Refreshments served.

Passports only $10 each.

More info.

Ontario Delphinium Club


Annual Meeting & Field Day BBQ


New Date: July 11

Location: Sofie Bigham's Garden in Brooklin

Time: 11am

More info. 

St. Marys Horticultural Society



Annual Garden Tour


Date: July 12

Time: 1-5pm

Come see beautiful Stonetown's back and front yards. Maps will be sold in from of Town Hall, corner of Church and Queen St. for $10.

More info. 

A Day in the Gardens of Guildwood


Date: July 12

Time: 1:00-5:30pm

The Guildwood Village Community Association announces the thirteenth annual "A Day in the Gardens of Guildwood" garden tour.  Fourteen gardens are featured that include a large variety of trees, container gardening, water features, artwork, unusual novelties, annuals, perennials, grasses, and herbs in formal and informal settings that are family friendly with a touch of humour.

More info. 

Eganville & Area Horticultural Society



60th Anniversary Garden Tour & Tea


Date: July 12

Time: 1-5pm

The tour includes 6 spectacular area gardens, tea at Eganville Legion (with plant & book sales).

Passport (with map) $15 at several sites.

More info. 

Applewood Garden Club


Great Neighbourhood Gardens Tour


Date: July 12

Time: 10am-4pm

Featuring 9 unique and owner-designed gardens in Applewood Acres and East Oakville.  Join us for refreshments in our signature Tearoom in a member's garden.


More info. 

Town of Whitby - Whitby in Bloom


Whitby In Bloom

Garden Tour


Date: July 18

Time: 10am-4pm

Visit unique properties in Whitby and Brooklin.  Non-perishable food items will be collected in lieu of a fee.  The food collected will be donated to local food banks in Whitby and Brooklin.

Garden tour brochures and maps available online.

Wasaga Beach Garden Club


"Gardens of the Beach" Garden Tour


I spoke to the good people in Wasaga Beach this spring and was impressed by their unique properties and the warm welcome that I received.  I think you will really enjoy this tour!

Date: July 19

Time: 10am-4pm

All of the featured gardens are unique, each in their own way and something special will be taken away from each of them.  We will have knowledgeable guides at each location and some of the gardens will have a member of Master Gardeners of Ontario in attendance.

More info.

Whistling Gardens


3rd Annual Garden Party "Painting Rainbows"


Date: July 25

Time: 1-6pm

Join us as we return to "simpler times" through the rediscovery of the Garden Party of yesteryears.  This is an all ages, family friendly event.  Proceeds directed to the Norfolk General Hospital Foundation.

Register today, contact us.

Montreal Botanical Garden



If you have never seen the Montreal Botanical Garden you really must put it on your bucket list.  It is remarkable and a much too well kept secret from the rest of the country.  One of my top 10 public gardens in the world.  But then, I am a bit biased.  Mark


Courtyard of the Senses: See with Your Eyes Blindfolded! - Guided tour


Dates: June 20 to September 7, 2015

Hours: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Touch, smell and listen to the plants

This garden features over fifty plant varieties chosen to stimulate your senses. It is the only place where you can touch, smell and listen to the plants in complete freedom. Blindfolded, you can take a deep breath, relax, and let yourself be guided.

More info. 

Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens

Nova Scotia

Historic Gardens

House & Garden Tour


The finest example of a historic garden in the entire country.  Make a point of dropping in when you are in the Maritimes. 


Date: July 4, 2015

Time: 10am-4pm

Tickets are $25 per person.

Volunteers and Staff at Canada's Garden of the Year in Annapolis Royal are pleased to announce plans for the 10th edition of the Annapolis Royal House & Garden Tour, on Saturday, July 4, 10am -4pm, which this year will be expanding to include a full weekend of activities.

House & Garden Tour tickets may be purchased online through the website, or at the Historic Gardens or Scotiabank - Annapolis Royal.

More info.