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Announcing!  A Groundbreaking Book...

Everyone has a story.
But not everyone writes a book.
I have had this story rattling around inside my head for several years.  "What if I could share my experience, as I travel across Canada, with readers who are interested in the future of gardening?  Who are the new gardeners?  How are they changing the 'garden landscape'? What are their concerns?  How are they addressing these concerns?  What will the typical Canadian garden look like in a generation?  What can we learn from the new gardeners?"
I am privileged to work with Dundurn press, the largest publisher of Canadian titles by Canadian authors.  They say that they print about 100 new titles each year in this country.  Impressive! 
This journey began about three years ago when I started shopping my idea around with book agent Curtis Russell.  Several rejections later, here we are.  A printed copy of The New Canadian Garden in hand.  
I am very proud and excited about this new book.  Even though I have written a few in my time (21 to be exact) this one is truly unique.

Here is how: 


1.  What was no longer is nor shall be.  Since I wrote my first hard covered book A Greener Thumb in 1990 things have changed (no kidding!).  For one thing, I was a young father of 2 at the time.  Now I am a not-so-young father of four and recently a newly minted grand father (thank you Lynn and Rene!) 


When I wrote A Greener Thumb our #1 priority was colour.... Impatiens plants represented over 60% of all annual flowering plants sold in Canada. There were masses of them everywhere!  Not so today.  

Vegetables and herbs have taken that favoured spotlight away from the impatiens plant.


2.  Edible plants have always been around, but the interest in them has never been this intense.  I don't think that the Victory Garden era during the Second World War was a time of such this focus on food plants.  Why?  Thank the youth of today, who see home-grown food as a path to better health and a brighter future.  Home grown vegetables provide an opportunity to control the environment in which our food is grown, an education in working with soil and an activity that is part of nature.  Young parents are leading the way on this.


3.  Environment.  Recently I wrote a newspaper column about the  connection between nature and gardens.  I talked about introducing beneficial insects into your yard using an insect hotel.  The response was overwhelming!  I really enjoy the enthusiasm from readers.  


The New Canadian Garden provides similar information, only more.  I take the time to 'drill down' and provide information about the environment as it relates to gardening in detail.  You will enjoy this!


4.  Kids.  More than 10 years ago we were introduced to the concept of 'Nature Deficit Disorder' by Richard Louv, author of The Last Child in the Woods.  Since then a whole new generation of parents and grand parents have worked hard at introducing kids to the natural world around them, starting in their own back yard.  My new book offers a myriad of ideas on how to bring butterflies, hummingbirds, song birds and beneficial insects into your yard.  And I explain why you should!  

How is all of this possible? 
I just turned 60 years old this winter... so why would you take all of this 'new' stuff from an 'old hat'?  The answer is twofold:
Marette Sharp is a gifted writer and a committed environmentalist.  She helped me research and write much of this book and I give her full credit for adding a voice that would otherwise be lacking, especially where the 'New' part of the book title is concerned!

Me?  My years in the business includes a focus on how it is changing.  I have always had an intense interest in current trends and long term projections of an industry from which I derive my living.  Over time, I have learned to ask a lot of questions, to seek out answers and to listen (at least, I do my best!)
Together, Marette and I offer you a unique opportunity to create a better garden by opening your eyes to its' real potential. 
A better planned garden.
A more productive garden.
A garden with soil that is organically rich and wholesome.
And an experience that involves a community of beneficial wildlife, a design that is current and yes... that is colourful! 

Welcome to The New Canadian Garden.
I hope that you enjoy reading it and absorbing over 200 photographs, many from my own 10 acre garden. 
It will be in stores later this month, or you can order it online.
Things To Do in the Garden this Month: 
-  Don't shovel salt-laden snow on your garden or permanent garden plants.  Push it down to the street.
-  Use a salt substitute on your drive and walkway, one that will not harm your plants or the environment.  I use Alaskan Ice Melter.

Secure the burlap or 'wrap' that you placed around your evergreens in the fall.  February is the month (and early March in most parts of Canada) when heavy, wet snow and ice can do the most damage.

Plant up an amaryllis and enter my contest for a chance to win tickets to Canada Blooms.  Details below.

-  Check indoor plants for repotting.  If they have roots growing out the drainage hole at the bottom and on the surface of the soil, time to up-size to a larger pot!  Only increase by one size of pot.  Use Pro Mix for best results.

-  February is 'seeds' month. I acquire most of my veggie and flower seeds this month as the selection is at its' best.  Check out the new varieties of Marks Choice seeds at the top of the rack at Home Hardware.

-  Valentines gift ideas?  Check out my newspaper column on February 13 with lots of great ideas.  

-  Keep in touch: I write a weekly blog, newspaper column, Facebook post every second day (or so), tweet and a new audio Green File every Wednesday.  All are accessible at 
Have a great month and "Keep Your Knees Dirty" in your mind, anyway!
Mark Cullen
Merchant of Beauty
5th Annual Amaryllis Photo Contest 

We're giving away tickets to Canada Blooms!

This month I have 5 pairs of tickets for Canada Blooms to give away.

From March 11-20, 2016, Canada Blooms returns to the Enercare Centre celebrating its 20th Anniversary as Canada's largest flower and garden festival.

To enter my contest, email one photo of your amaryllis to
Please use the subject line 'amaryllis contest'.

I will post all photos on my facebook page.

The 5 photos which receive the most 'likes' will be the winners.  Each winner will receive a pair of tickets to Canada Blooms (value $40).

Enter today!

Deadline for contest entries is February 12, 2016.  Deadline for voting is February 17, 2016.
Product of the Month - Mark's Choice 'Insect Plus' Suet

These suet plugs contain a high amount of beef tallow to attract more birds as well as harden the plugs. 
They are called 'Insect Plus' because they are loaded with insects
 to attract a wide variety of insect-eating birds.

These U-shaped logs fit round hole and U-shaped hole feeders.
Exclusive to Home Hardware (item# 5453-713)
Stay in Touch 
Mark's Gardening Connections

Home Hardware
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Gardening Events
Event Schedule

My monthly Event Listings are so popular we are running out of room in the newsletter.  Beginning this month, all event listings have moved to
Event lists are organized by Province and accessible through these links:
Do you have a 'gardening' event you would like to promote?  I would be happy to include your event listing on my website.
Send your info to with the subject line 'Event Listing'.  Please provide a brief description of the event, along with a website for further information.