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.

Plan a Trip

~February 8, 2012

Mid winter is a good time to plan a trip for this spring or summer: you will likely save some money and once you have committed the time in your schedule it is hard to back out. You get what you plan for.

Travel opens our minds to broader horizons. We gain a deeper understanding of how gardens are created and an appreciation for the value of time. A garden that is several generations or centuries old feels different than the one in your back yard. These gardens help us understand that a garden is created not for the gardener but people who are not born yet.

Here are my top 3 gardens in North America:

Minter Gardens, B. C.
In 1980 a young entrepreneur by the name of Brian Minter was hiking through a mountain path not far from his Chilliwack home when it occurred to him that the real estate would make a spectacular garden. He was right. He bought the mountain, so to speak, built the garden and earned an Order of Canada in the process.

Today Minter Gardens is one of the great Canadian secrets of public gardens. Truth is most people travelling the Trans Canada highway through Mission B.C. will drive right past the door of the place and not even know that they are missing a tremendous horticultural gem. Many will be on their way to Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, which is also worth the visit. But it is not Minter; quiet, contemplative, wildly innovative (check out the new children’s garden) and one of the hot spots for weddings in the Fraser Valley.
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Montreal Botanical Gardens.
What the Montreal Canadiens are to hockey, the MBG is to North American gardens. You will find culture, a storied past: an icon of the city that for some reason is a big secret to many of us here in Ontario. This is hardly fair.

Recently a friend, who I would not judge to be a very passionate gardener, ‘discovered’ the Montreal Botanical Garden and came home raving about this ‘find’ where an authentic Japanese Garden, an extensive collection of trees and rare plants, wildlife and meandering paths provide an extraordinary experience within easy reach on public transit. You can discover it for the mere admission price of $16.50. Check it out on line and you will find that there is one botanical garden that rivals our own Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington: the MBG.
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Longwood Gardens.
Pierre S. du Pont was an industrialist and a gardener. He also had a lot of money. Longwood is the only garden, to my knowledge, that is maintained by an endowment left by the founder. A recent six million dollar capital project was financed from the interest earned by this incredibly generous foundation. And that is in addition to financing the operating costs of the place. When you pay $18 to get in to Longwood you are merely topping up the income required to maintain this extraordinary treasure.

Longwood is a full day visit. It is impossible to do this expansive property justice in any less time. The vegetable gardens showcase traditional gardening methods and heritage varieties as well as the current hybrids. Fountains of water can be heard from hundreds of meters away due to the shear volume of them. The greenhouses always feature a seasonal display that will knock your gardening socks off and there is a great restaurant, snack bar, gift shop and …. Well, let’s just say that the entire experience is top drawer. It is worth the drive to Philadelphia (1/2 hour north). Get the details at