Mark Cullen's FREE monthly newsletter.
Garden Writers Association Silver Award Winner.

Gardening With Mark
No Yawning Here

When I read all of the stories this time of year, that 'highlight the year behind us', I greet them with a yawn.  This re-hash strikes me often as space-filler for a slow news day.

That is why I am not going to review the highlights of a great gardening year.  Last year was a great gardening year.  In fact, every year that I am able to stoop and pull a weed, to plant and absorb the natural world that surrounds me in my garden is a great year.  
However, I'm not going to miss this opportunity to Thank You

In the spring,  I took off across the country on my annual Home Hardware sponsored tour.  I was privileged to open four new "Mark Cullen Approved" Home Hardware Garden Centres in Olds and Lamont, Alberta, Sooke B.C. and Wellesley Ontario.  

Thank you for coming out and introducing yourselves!  I love it when someone says, "I am Mary and I get your monthly newsletter."  That jumping off point always gives us lots to talk about.

Learn more about Mark Cullen Approved Garden Centres
In June, I road my bike in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer with my son Ben, daughter Heather and son in law Martin.  We
conquered over 110 km of road in two days and together we raised over $16,000.

Truth is: we could not have done it without you.  Over 180 newsletter readers responded and I will forever be grateful.

More info.
Goodbye Hugh 
In July, my good friend Hugh Beaty passed away at 97 years old.  A fine gentleman, a gritty outlier who helped to start SHARE Agriculture Foundation.  
A WW II vet and very good friend.  

I wrote a book about his life and you helped to lift book sales over 1,200.  Not bad for a book that was never available for sale in a book store!  

Thank you for wanting to learn more about Hugh and his remarkable life.  (You can still buy a copy and all of the proceeds go to SHARE at

Hugh will forever be remembered for saying, "We forget to look outside of ourselves.  To see the world of need around us."  My, my.  I miss Hugh. 

This year we introduced a brand new product, Golfgreen Iron Plus.  It was a bit of a risk as the market is crowded with good product.  However, research told us that this formula would produce a visibly greener lawn in 72 hours (or your money back).  It did too.   

Based on my experience, this product is better than anything you can buy in Canada on the retail market.
And the response was overwhelming.  One newsletter reader wrote me from the Beaches in Toronto to say that she was not renewing her contract with her lawn service company, the results from Golfgreen Iron plus were so amazing. 
Sales of the product surpassed our expectations.  Do you know how proud that makes me feel? 

Thank you for trusting my word and endorsement.  

(Photo of my lawn taken Christmas day. Amazing results from Golfgreen Iron Plus.)
Mark's Choice 

Speaking of endorsements, my relationship with the fine people at Home Hardware is now in the 13th year.  While I go out of my way to avoid using this newsletter to 'advertise' our products and services, the work that I do with Home Hardware is inter-linked with my editorial message.  It is my ongoing goal to make sure that every product in the Mark's Choice line-up has the same kind of built-in integrity as my editorial messages.  
Thank you for supporting the Mark's Choice brand.  We now have over 170 products in the line up, including the coolest
2-wheeled wheelbarrow that you have every set your hand on.  Only one hand? Yup.  It is that well balanced.  Mind you, when you fill it you might want to use both hands.
Just a reminder that Home Hardware has more locations across the country than any of it's competitors (about 1,100) and every one is owned independently by Canadians.  Most of the dealers live in the community in which they do business.  It is the perfect All-Canadian business model!  
Thank You to my Masters in the Media! 

Each week my message on gardening and the environment reaches over two million Canadians.  

For this I can thank the many editors of my syndicated newspaper column, but especially to Jane Van Der Voort at the Toronto Star
And to Jeff Hutcheson for putting up with me each week on Canada AM.

And to Scott Metcalfe, my boss at 680 News in Toronto and the 5 other radio station program managers who carry my Green File each week.
Dear me, the list goes on and I don't want to risk being the very kind of bore that I complained about at the beginning of this newsletter. 
Big News! 

So let me tell you about the most exciting news in publishing since 'The Greener Thumb' (1990).  Next month, I will publish a new book with Dundurn Press (the largest publishers of Canadian titles in the country).  'The New Canadian Garden' was three years in the making and I am busting at the seams to tell you about it. 
This new book provides a valuable snapshot of how we garden today and a look into the future in terms of how we will garden a generation from now.
It is a reference book.
A story book.
A photo-guide and inspiration.
It is a how-to book and a book that reflects all of the hope and energy of youth.
20-something Marette Sharp helped me put this work together and she has done us a great service by sharing her passion for the natural world around us as it relates to the gardening experience. 
More details to come, including my schedule for the 'book tour' across Canada. 
Canada Blooms 

The venerable Grand Daddy of Canadian garden shows is back and I am back with it... along with my buddy Denis Flanagan.  We appear Friday, March 11, Saturday, March 12, Monday the 14th and Tuesday the 15th.  We open the festival each day with an overview of the highlights and suggestions of what you must see during your visit. 
Once again, Canada Blooms combines with the National Home Show to create the largest event of its kind on the continent.  Plan your visit now and remember, while it is physically located in Toronto (at the Enercare Centre, formerly known as the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place) it is worth the drive/train ride or flight from any point in the country.  I know, as I meet hordes of happy people who travel in just for the festival.  Go to for details.  Watch this newsletter for more about 'Blooms in February. 
Finally, thank you for reading THIS newsletter.  

Thanks to you, we won the Silver medal for 'newsletters' from the Garden Writers Association, against formidable competition.  Our 'Open Rate' is over 50% which is considered amazing in the industry.  Again, thanks to you.
Continue to watch this newsletter, which we gladly send to you on about the last day of each month to bring you up to date on happenings in the gardening world and to remind you that there are some important tasks that require attention in the garden.
For January, I am happy to report, you can take the month off.  For the most part.   Consider the following:
-  Pot up your Christmas amaryllis and keep and eye out for our annual contest.. our most popular contest!  Neat prizes. Details in the February newsletter.  You can view last year's contest here.  

-  Reduce watering of most indoor plants.  9 out of 10 problems with indoor plants are the result of over watering. Go on vacation.

Order seeds for your veggie and flower garden.  If you don't 'order' seeds, check out the fresh stock at Home Hardware and note the new additions to the Mark's Choice line up - NEW! Now at top row of every seed rack from Ontario Seed. 

Go to local horticultural club meetings.  Gardeners are social creatures and so are you (probably)... especially in winter!  Bring your questions and an inquisitive mind: many answers are to be found here!

-  Read, listen, organize your garden photos from last summer and put up your gardening antennae: winter is when we learn and deepen our horticultural knowledge, not to mention create a plan for our 2016 garden!
Relax, light the fire, enjoy a wonderful, quiet time to reflect. 
I will.  And I will be thinking about you while I am doing it.

Mark Cullen
Merchant of Beauty
Contest Winners 

Last month, I invited you to submit a photo of your Christmas tree.  All photos were posted on my Facebook page.

The 5 photos that received the most 'likes' have each won a copy of the 2016 Harrowsmith's Almanac.

Congratulations to:
Brenda Park
Sheila Durant
Tanya Ladouceur
Margit Fritsch
H. Maclean

You can view all photos here.

Next month, I will be inviting you to submit a photo of your amaryllis in bloom. The 5 photos to receive the most 'likes' will each receive a pair of Mark's Choice Premium Hand Pruners.  If you haven't started an amaryllis bulb yet... this is your advance notice.  Stay tuned for contest details in the February issue of Gardening with Mark.