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.

A Fundraiser for the Windsor Hockey Heritage Society

~December 28, 2012

Let’s save the Hockey Heritage Museum in Windsor Nova Scotia!

I love to garden, but when I get the winter off, I love hockey just as much as gardening.

The Windsor Hockey Heritage Society in partnership with the Town of Windsor, King’s Edgehill School, Windsor Home Hardware and Howard Dill Enterprises (Long Pond) are working together to create an exciting fundraiser for the Windsor Hockey Heritage Society.

The event will be called the Birthplace of Hockey, Long Pond Heritage Classic. The event will be the ultimate hockey experience for the true hockey fan. The day will include a private viewing of the hockey museum, the chance to follow the historic footsteps of those youngsters at Edgehill School in 1800, by playing in a game on Long Pond, an after game meal, and an evening of hockey with like minded individuals. The players will keep their own unique jerseys, custom made hockey stick, as well as receive a tax receipt for $250. Organizers are expecting 72 players at $500 each. I recommend that you sign up soon. I have 8 guys planning to fly out there from the Toronto area. It will be a hoot for anyone that loves hockey!!

This event will take place on February 11, 2012.

For more information; watch the video ( and visit

The Perfect Hostess Gift

~ December 21, 2011

I get a greater response from this idea as a hostess/house warming gift of all.

During this busy time of year it's very important to say 'thank you' to those who go out of their way to entertain or those who you simply want to acknowledge as being special!
Why not leave them with a gift which will bring colour and beauty to their home in the New Year.
The Mark's Choice Amaryllis Kit comes complete with a decorative ceramic planter. My amaryllis are guaranteed to bloom. The bulbs are 'super-sized' and 22% bigger than most of the amaryllis sold in Canada. This means bigger flowers and more of them. Available exclusively at participating Home Hardware stores across Canada. (item# 5029-303, red and # 5029-304, striped). Be sure to pick up an extra kit for yourself.

Amaryllis: What to do After Blooming

Once your Amaryllis has finished blooming it requires some attention. Cut the flower stalk back to about 2" in height. Allow the leaves to continue to grow and water when the soil feels dry. This will allow the leaves to produce energy which the bulb will store for future blooms.
In the spring plant your Amaryllis (and the pot) in your garden. Find a location with partial shade and water during periods of drought. Fertilize regularly with a high phosphate liquid plant fertilizer.
In late September bring the pot indoors and cut back the foliage. Dry the bulb for 2 weeks at 65 degrees F and then store for about 10 weeks in a cool, dry, dark place. At the end of this storage period you will need to repot your Amaryllis bulb in fresh potting mix and start the cycle again.

Whether your host chooses to re-bloom their amaryllis or not, they will enjoy it and think of you often.

Let It Snow

~ December 14, 2011

Looking for the best insulater in the business for plants – one that is free? I have it for you – Snow. It acts as an insulator and protects your garden from the cold and frost. It is important to remember that a heavy snowfall can also cause branches to break and damage delicate plants. A few simple steps will help protect your yard against snow damage.

* Shake excess snow from the branches of trees, shrubs and hedges. This will ensure that your plants keep their desired shape.
Wrap conifers with string to support branches. Once a branch has been stretched out of shape it will not return to its original form.

* Avoid walking on your lawn when it is snow-covered. This can damage the grass and leave marks on the lawn which become visible in the spring. Driving across the lawn or walking on it during the winter can also encourage fungal growth leading to disease problems.
Be careful when clearing the snow from driveways and walkways. If you pile snow against your trees, shrubs or hedges it can cause further damage. The weight of the snow leaning against your plants can break branches or bend them out of shape.

Clearing snow and ice from your driveway and walkways can be a lot of work. Many municipalities have by-laws which state snow must be cleared within 24 hours following a snowfall. Consider these suggestions the next time you are faced with the daunting task of snow removal around your home. Avoid shoveling heavy snow by clearing the snow early and often.

If you are home during a snow storm it is a good idea to begin shoveling when a light covering of snow is on the ground. This will help you avoid moving heavy, packed snow.Warm up before you start snow removal to help reduce muscle strain or injury.Invest in a great snow shovel which is designed for 'pushing' snow rather than 'lifting'. Pushing the snow puts less stress on your body. If you must lift heavy snow make sure you use your legs. Lifting with your legs will keep the stress off your back muscles. Lift small amounts and through straight forward. Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or sideways. Twisting motions will also stress your back muscles.

* Use Alaskan ice melter to clear ice and prevent ‘salt’ damage to your precious garden plants.
Salt can be a gardener's nightmare. It can cause winter injury and dieback. Salt spray can desiccate foliage and runoff can injure roots. Salt runoff can also be absorbed by the plant and cause further damage to the foliage. Burlap barriers provide some protection against salt spray damage. Alaskan® Ice Melter is safe for use near vegetation when used as directed. It contains an environmentally inert TrueBlue marker that marks where the ice melter has been applied. The blue colour marker protects against over-application and allows you to see where you have placed the product to avoid contact with your plants.

Winterize Garden Tools and Last Minute Garden Prep

~ December 7, 2011

You have a substantial investment in garden tools and equipment, therefore I recommend that you spend some time with them before putting them to bed for the winter.

I recommend taking the time for preventative maintenance. This will extend the life of tools and equipment and make them work more easily and efficiently.
Remove dirt from all tools using a wire brush or water. Oil all pivot points and springs. Sharpen the cutting edges of shovels, hoes, spades, loppers and pruners. Replace or repair any broken or bent parts. As a final step, treat all bare metal parts and cutting edges with KL73 to prevent rust. This is a long lasting rust inhibitor which lubricates, penetrates and displaces moisture. KL73 is available exclusively at Home Hardware.

Store all tools indoors in a dry location. If you haven't checked out the full line of Mark's Choice cuttings tools, this is the perfect time. It is time to throw away or recycle your old broken tools and invest in the latest Canadian-made cutting tools. Available exclusively at Home Hardware, I chose these cutting tools for the Mark's Choice product line because of their exceptional quality and durability.

Before storing hoses away for the winter, drain all the water from them and store in a dry location. This significantly reduces the chance of hoses springing a leak. If your garden hoses are cracked and/or leaking, replace them with the Mark's Choice non-kinking, continuous flow hose. It is designed and made in Canada and features anti-kink technology. The fittings are the very best quality brass and I am proud to have this hose in the Mark's Choice line of gardening accessories available exclusively at Home Hardware.

While we are talking about ‘winterizing’ let us not forget to prepare evergreens for the winter ahead.
Sunny and windy winter days can dry out the needles of evergreens. Snow and ice can also accumulate on branches causing them to break. Use a double layer of burlap to protect evergreens during the winter. You can either loosely wrap the fabric around the plant, or build a screen. When you wrap evergreens with burlap, be sure to leave the top and bottom open about 1 foot to allow for air circulation. Another option, used for recently transplanted evergreens, is to insert 4 stakes in the ground around the plant and wrap the burlap around the stakes. Lightly fill the space between the burlap and the foliage with dry leaves. Bind upright evergreens, like cedars and junipers, with strong cord or Vexar Mesh to prevent the branches from being pulled out of shape by snow and ice.
Broad-leaved evergreens, such as rhododendrons and hollies, can suffer from desiccation and sun-scald during the winter. They should be shielded from the wind and partially shaded with burlap screens as soon as evening temperatures have fallen below freezing for a couple of weeks and sprayed with Wilt-Pruf, an anti-desiccant. Young evergreens should have the ground around them soaked thoroughly with water before the first big frost. This will help prevent desiccation or drying out.

To prevent rodent or deer damage apply Bobbex. In my experience it is the best repellent on the market. Note that it is the taste and smell of the stuff that keeps rabbits, mice and deer away. No harm to the animal. Go to for more info.