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.


~ June 8, 2011

Peonies are one of the most easily grown and one of the most outstanding looking early summer flowers ranging in colour from coral to red to white and yellow. They add a massive infusion of colour into the garden and are fairly maintenance-free besides fall clean up. Moreover, they prefer cooler climates with harsher winters and full sun making them ideal for zone 4, 5 and 6.

There are two Peony classes, the Regular Garden type, Chinese, (die down to the ground in the winter)and the Tree type, Japanese, (remain above the ground over the winter).

Chinese peonies are herbaceous, relatively easy to grow and can live for quite a long time in the garden. Amend the planting hole with plenty of rich organic matter. They prefer soil that drains well. Planted with the 'eyes' no more than one inch below the soil. This will help to promote the plant to grow quickly but more importantly, reach flowering size quicker and produce more blooms. They do not require much pruning - mainly only for shape/clean up and once estalibshed do not need watering except in very dry weather.

Japanese Tree type peonies are much the same as above, however, differ in a couple of ways. They prefer slightly more alkaline soil and can tolerate light shade during the hottest part of the day. Unlike their cousins, the graft of Tree peonies should be buried approximately four inches deep to protect it from cold winters.

Both types of Peonies are fairly resistant to disease, however, they can be affected by Grey Mould Blight which attacks and ruins the flower buds. To prevent this ensure plenty of sun and good air circulation and if persistent, Green Earth Lime Sulpur can be used as a fungicide.

This weekend is the annual Peony Festival at the Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens. The event runs June 11 and 12 from 10am to 4pm. For more information, visit

Check out my facebook page next Monday for photos from the Peony Festival.