November 2015
Gardening with Mark
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A Living Tribute to Canada's Fallen
This month, I have a very special announcement to make: the official launch of the Highway of Heroes Living Tribute.  This is very special and I want you to be among the very first to hear about it. 
As you likely know, a tree stores carbon, produces oxygen, filters toxins out of rain water and provides a nice place to throw a blanket for a picnic.  The VALUE of a tree is increased substantially when it is a living tribute to Canada's war dead. 
The newly hatched 'Highway of Heroes Living Tribute' campaign endeavours to be just that: an ambitious plan to plant over 117,000 trees on the Highway of Heroes, between CFB Trenton, along the 401 to the Keele Street interchange where the coroner's office is located.   

This is the route that every repatriated body takes after it arrives here from abroad (most recently from Afghanistan). 
The Living Tribute is an acknowledgement of the ultimate sacrifice that over 117,000 people have made during times of war since the beginning of WWI.
How did this happen?
The idea of acknowledging Canada's fallen in this way is the result of a discussion that started in my column in the Toronto Star over 3 years ago.  
In the summer of 2012, I wrote an open letter to then mayor of Toronto Rob Ford, requesting that he support a ramped up effort to plant more trees in the city.  The emerald ash borer was wreaking predicable havoc on our ash population, which represented more than an 8% decline of the tree canopy. 
In addition, a new study was published by Forests Ontario called 'A Healthy Dose of Green' which quantified once and for all, the benefits to all aspects of human health by a healthy tree canopy. 
The call was never answered by Mr. Ford but I did receive numerous responses from citizens and not-for-profit organisations that were dedicated to enhancing the tree canopy.  In all, 13 organisations agreed to meet to discuss what could be done by working together towards a mutual goal.  For two years we discussed the various ways in which we could work together for the greater good of all: the goal being the planting of more trees in urban spaces.  
The Living Tribute is born

A story that I wrote for the Toronto Star some months later, about the successful reforestation of a section of highway in London Ontario, created a stir: the Veterans Memorial Parkway provided a perfect model for the Living Tribute Campaign along the Highway of Heroes.  If a small group of people could convert a 10 km section of highway into a living tribute to our war dead, why not along the 401? 
The question was posed by Tony DiGiovanni, the executive director of Landscape Ontario (our industry trade association), "If we can do it in London, why not along the Highway of Heroes?
Everyone at Trees For Life (the coalition of not-for-profit tree planters) agreed that our efforts required focus and this idea gave us that.  This was the perfect opportunity to plant trees where they otherwise would not be planted, using funds that were not otherwise earmarked for this purpose.  The result would be incremental growth in tree canopy in the 416 (and beyond) on property no one was about to plant.  
Strategic partners
In time, we would have an agreement with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to access the 401 for tree planting. 
Forests Ontario, the government of Ontario's partner in the 50 Million Tree Program, has joined us in this important collaboration. Rob Keen, CEO, Forests Ontario explained, "This is the perfect accompaniment to our planting programs. It is a privilege to be the primary implementers of the Living Tribute campaign on the Highway of Heroes. We look forward to planting trees in honour of so many deserving Canadians."
For their part, Landscape Ontario have made a commitment to support the campaign with a cash donation, ongoing in-kind support for tree planting and fundraising from its member base of over 2,500.  "I really love to dream of possibilities" says Tony DiGiovanni, "and this is one dream that will give me great pleasure to see come to fruition."  He explains that support for the concept by his membership is overwhelming. 
With support from CFB Trenton, where the Highway of Heroes begins, to Keele Street in Toronto, the vision of a newly forested stretch of asphalt that has stood for the sacrifice of many in the name of freedom is soon to come to life.  The transformation will be exciting.  As visitors and residents alike travel the busiest stretch of asphalt in North America they will, in time, be impressed by the stretch of green, life-giving, oxygen-producing trees that stand as a tribute to our fallen. 
If you value the democratic principles and the freedom that all Canadians enjoy, I strongly suggest that you consider supporting our efforts to create a living legacy. On behalf of Canada's fallen war heroes, I urge you to join us.  We are looking for volunteers for a wide variety of jobs and of course cash donations.  While a budget has yet to be finalized, we are certain that over $20 million will be needed to provide the trees and resources to get them in the ground.  Maintaining them for five years after planting is an important part of the process.
With the formal plan for the highway portion of the campaign underway we are now working on step #2: the planting of more than 2 million trees on adjacent lands to the highway on private and public property.  One tree for each person who has ever served in the Canadian Armed Forces. 
The Highway of Heroes Living Tribute: the value of a tree has never been so great. 
Please visit for details.  
In other news...
RakeI recommended in a recent newspaper column that you rake your leaves off your lawn and on to your garden, where worms and beneficial bacteria will break them down into humus that is so good for your soil.  

I also suggested that excess leaves could be raked into an established bush or wooded area.  This, it turns out, is not such a good idea.  Here is a link to an Ontario conservation authority where they suggest that you avoid putting leaves in naturalized wooded areas.  Instead, they recommend that you put them in your composter. 
While I agree that you could always use more compost and we really should not put them at the end of the driveway for the municipality to pick up, there is a limit to how many leaves the average household composting unit can hold.  For those of you living with said limitations, I recommend that you run your lawn mower over excess leaves and let them rot down into the soil under the grass blades.  If you have more than that to deal with, rake the excess mowed leaves onto your garden. 
Thanks to Andy Wickens for drawing this to my attention.

- P
lant remaining spring flowering bulbs.

- Apply Wilt-Pruf to all evergreens, especially yews and boxwood to prevent drying out and turning brown this winter.  Save some to apply to your Christmas tree. (Home Hardware item# 5097-815)

- Hill up your roses with 60 to 80 cm of triple mix or Mark's Choice garden soil.   

- Turn off your outdoor faucets from the basement, put away garden hoses and furniture for the winter.

amaryllis - Buy your amaryllis while the best quality bulbs are in stock.  Hint: Mark's Choice amaryllis are in stock at Home Hardware and I am proud to say that you will not likely find a better quality, Dutch grown bulb out there.  You will pay a little bit more but the performance of these bulbs will knock you out.  And if you give them as a gift, they will make you proud that you and I are acquaintances. 

- Enter my contest to win a pair of Mark's Choice hand pruners. These are the best pruners on the market for less than $60 ($29 at Home Hardware!)  
See details below.  I love these pruners.  

November is 'Remembrance month'.  Remember to remember and be sure to wear a poppy.

Take 2 minutes out of your busy schedule to visit the new Highway of Heroes Living Tribute website
Keep your knees dirty,
Merchant of Beauty

Operation Raise a Flag

Every November, we have a special opportunity to pause, remember and thank Canada's veterans for their heroic service. Join thousands of Canadian's, and celebrate Canada's heroes and honour their courage and sacrifices with Operation Raise a Flag.
In the early morning hours of November 11th, thousands of Canadian flags will grace the lawns in front of the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre to honour our veterans for their service and sacrifices. When veterans awake on Remembrance Day, there will be a patriotic sea of thousands of red and white Canadian flags in their honour.
To take part visit, or call 1-866-696-2008 to purchase a flag and send a personal message to a veteran. Flags are available for a modest $25.
Proceeds from the campaign will go to the Veterans Comfort Fund at the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre. Your donation will help Sunnybrook provide veterans with an enhanced quality of life through community outings, continued learning opportunities and special time with family members.
Sunnybrook's Veterans Centre is the largest veterans care facility in Canada and home to 475 veterans who served in the Second World War and the Korean War. They answered the call of duty and they stood on guard for thee, so that all Canadians may enjoy peace and freedom today.
Star Touch - Incredible!
This month, I discovered a new way to get news.  Star Touch is the latest electronic offering of daily news from the Toronto Star, for iPad and iPhone users.  

It is true, I work for them and write an article in the New Homes and Condos section every Saturday.  Back in the summer, I was summoned to #1 Yonge Street in Toronto for a special meeting of the freelancer writers.  We were told that this new product was coming and that the Star had made a huge commitment to 'get it right'. 
Well, now that it is 'live' and I have signed up, I am blown away and, indeed, it is 'right'!  It is very fast and full of articles - name your category.... And when you hit one story that interests you they provide a link to other related stories if you want to learn more.  It is by far the fastest, deepest daily news website that I have experienced. 
Just for your information, while the Canadian election was on I was in the States I kept in touch with the election results as they came in using my Star Touch app and it was amazing.
Best part?  It is free. 

p.s. yes, my weekly article is available in the 'properties' section of Star Touch each week.

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

Obviously some gardeners in Canada will not have much to show this time of year as winter is closing in - so send me a picture from earlier in the season, if you like.  Tell me why it's your favourite.  

I will post all photos on my facebook page.  Let your photos inspire other gardeners to try something new next year.

Email one photo to [email protected].
The 5 winners, who get the most 'likes', will receive a pair of Mark's Choice hand pruners  (Home Hardware item#5067-225) .

Encourage your friends and family to 'vote' for your photo to increase your chance of winning.
(deadline for entry is November 4, 2015.  Voting closes November 8, 2015)

A note about these pruners - I torture tested them in my 10 acre garden for some time before I agreed to put my name on them. I am convinced that they are the best in the business.  Without question, at $29 retail, they are the best VALUE in the business!  Try a pair and let me know what you think.  Perhaps your roses could use a hair cut about now....
Contest Winners
Last month, 5 winners received a copy of the 2016 Harrowsmith Almanac.

I asked you to share 'what are you planting this fall'.  
Congratulations to these winners:
Pat Capelli
Eileen Fiell
Cathy Nolan
Ann Boyd
S. Legate
FREE Gardening Digest 

This month, I am pleased to provide my newsletter subscribers with a FREE digital issue of Harrowsmith's Gardening Digest.  
It's packed with how-to information on vegetable and flower gardening - the Harrowsmith way!   My column included at no extra charge.   Click here.

For more information on Harrowsmith visit
Product of the Month 
Golfgreen Fall Lawn Fertilizer

The most important application that you will make all year. And later is better.

Golfgreen is formulated to build up the natural sugars at the root zone of grass plants. You will get a faster green up come spring, less snow mold and a stronger, healthier lawn.

The later that you apply this in fall, the better. So the timing of application varies from region to region. Wait for a few 'killing frosts' which will slow down the metabolism of grass plants, creating the perfect conditions for application.

Golfgreen, for the record, is all that I use on my lawn. Why? It contains the most sophisticated form of slow release nitrogen in the business. It is safe ('apply and play'), lasts a long time and is great value for the money.

Home Hardware # 5024-160 (6kg), 5024-170 (12kg)
Stay in Touch 
Check out Mark Cullen Gardening on YouTube for 'How To' videos to help with your lawn & garden.

My weekly newspaper column can be found online at The Toronto Star or read in more than 20 other papers across the country.  
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.
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.

Events from West Coast to East Coast :

The Butchart Gardens
Brentwood Bay, BC

The Magic of Christmas Dinner and Dance
Date: November 28
Time: 6-11:30pm
$90 per person + tax
Gather your friends and colleagues for the annual festive Magic of Christmas Dinner and Dance. 
More info. 
Muttart Conservatory
Edmonton, AB

Muttart Conservatory
Concerts at the Conservatory: Country Notes

Date: November 5
Time: 6-8pm
Dust off your cowboy boots and enjoy some classic country and western tunes and songs. Before or after the concert, make sure to take in "Mums the Word" in our feature pyramid.  This display features beautiful Belgian chrysanthemums.

Montreal Botanical Garden


The Botanical Garden is a prime location for birdwatching because the diversity and quality of trees and shrubs provide the food and protection birds need as well as a suitable habitat for building their nests.

Northern species such as chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, cardinals and goldfinches like to visit our feeding stations to stock up on corn, sunflower seeds, millet, nyjer seed, and suet, while the crabapple trees provide food and shelter for waxwings and grosbeaks.
More info.
Ontario Rock Garden & Hardy Plant Society
Toronto, ON
Date: November 8
Time: 1-4pm
November meeting featuring Marilyn Cornwell
Presentation: Magic and Mystery in the Great Public Gardens of North America
Location: Toronto Botanical Gardens.  777 Lawrence Avenue East, Toronto
More info.
Royal Botanical Gardens
Burlington, ON
Holiday Traditions

Dates: November 14-January 3
RBG's annual holiday season celebration featuring the RBG Train Show.  Stroll through beautiful Hendrie Park strewn with magical Christmas lights, enjoy festive holiday music and make your way through the Candy Cane Garden to see Santa at this cabin.
More info.
Toronto Botanical Garden
Toronto, ON
Date: November 19
Time: 1-2pm
Speaker: Dan Cooper, from 'Gardening from a Hammock'
Topic: Exotic Tropical Flowers of Southeast Asia (part travelogue, part exotic flowers)
More info.
Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens
Nova Scotia

Historic Gardens
Winter Farmer's Market
The Historic Gardens are honoured to be home of the Annapolis Royal Winter Farmer's Market, running from mid-October through mid-May.

While you visit the Winter Market, you can enjoy the Gardens as well, wandering with a coffee and croissant in hand. In the snowy season, we even have snowshoes for loan, and often a bonfire in the Main Courtyard to gather around and warm your hands! It's a great social time as well as the perfect venue to buy your weekly supply of local food products.

For the 2015-16 season, the Annapolis Royal Winter Farmer's Market will operate EVERY Saturday, 9am-12noon, from October 17 to May 14 (with the possible exception of Boxing Day December 26).
More info.