Meet Mark Cullen

Canada's best known gardening personality, Mark Cullen believes that Canadians of all ages need to play more - preferably in the dirt. A best-selling author with over 400,000 books in print, Mark reaches over one million Canadians every week through various media outlets. He is Home Hardware's horticultural spokesperson and regularly contributes to various magazines, gardening shows and newsletters. With a familiar style that people can relate to, he delivers a message that is compelling, fun, informative and inspirational - all based on his organic approach to gardening. In his spare time Mark enjoys driving his Ford Model A - and of course he loves to garden.

Gearing up for a great Christmas

Garden Gear for the gardeners on your Christmas list.

We are not exactly ‘on the home stretch’ of the Christmas buying season, but we are at the 7th inning stretch. That means that the ‘last minute’ people are beginning to think seriously about their gifts for this Christmas and the long-term-planners are about to sit down with a good book and light a fire.

Which brings us nicely to the juncture where I can talk about MY favourite gifts – the ones that I would most like to receive at Christmas – as a gardener.

Here are my suggestions:

1. Books. Gardeners love to read, especially now that HGTV doesn’t run ‘gardening shows’ per se any more. We become starved for ideas and reflections on the growing season as the winter wears on.
* Middle Aged Spread. By Sonia Day. What my good friend Sonia has done here is to lay out the reality check everyone needs who has EVER even just thought of moving to the country. Her ‘dream garden’ becomes an adventure in living that even someone with the diverse background and travel experience of dear Sonia cannot anticipate. Funny. Engaging. Informative. Available at Book City and on line from Indigo/Amazon. Retails for $24.95.

* Gardeners Journal (especially for gardeners in Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe). Provides excellent weekly tips, what to do, contact info for all horticultural clubs, associations, government agencies, gardening media (i.e. TV, radio shows, magazines etc.), space for your own garden photos, and an extensive list of garden retailers including the bricks and mortar and e-retailers.

* Canadian Garden Primer, by Mark Cullen. This is my most exhaustively complete work, with an organic bend. Most everything that you need to know to grow a great veggie garden or a fabulous looking landscape (including an environmentally responsible lawn!). Lots of colour. Clear, concise text. For experienced and novice gardeners alike. Available at Chapters/Indigo and Home Hardware.

2. Tools. Experienced gardeners love to use quality tools. They are a pleasure to work with and, just like your favourite pair of jeans, we ‘break our tools in’ and become attached to them over time. Buy the best that you can afford and the receiver will think of you favourably forever.
* Pruning saw. Not just any saw: look for a comfortable fit in the hand, light weight, Canadian Made with a Swedish blade (they still make the best). You cannot go wrong with name brands like Felco, Corona or (frankly) Mark’s Choice.

* Hand pruners. Why is it that many gardeners will not part with enough cash to buy themselves a good quality pair of hand pruners? And yet, there is not one gardener alive who does not value the experience of working with a quality pair. Look for a comfortable feel in your hand: weight, balance, rubber grip, aluminum handle and a high carbon steel cutting blade. To be a real hero, include a small tube of honing oil, a small blade sharpener and a belt holster. THAT is a gift!! Name brands like Felco, Corona and (there it is again!) Mark’s Choice are recommended. or

* Stainless steel digging tools. Why stainless steel? They are smooth and cold - dirt does not stick to them as readily as with cheaper steel. They hold an edge – you will not have to sharpen them as often. They do not rust and they look great.

3. Gardeners also love wildlife and colour. Consider a magazine subscription. (Gardens West or Canadian Gardening, National Geographic, Canadian Geographic, Outdoors Canada etc.)

4. Nature/garden calendars.

And if your gardening friends have everything that they could ever want for their garden, why not plant one for someone else, in their name! There are great Canadian charities that are providing the resources for less fortunate people all over the world to access tools, soil, water and seeds in an effort to feed themselves. Every gardener that I have ever met would relate to and appreciate such a gift. Go to or

Keep your knees dirty!