Mark and Ben Cullen's newsletter

"Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June" - Al Bernstein

What do you see when you finally stand up from planting a row of beans by hand, and the blood rushes back into your head? We see June: the wait, water and grow month.

By now the heavy lifting, mad-dash of May is behind us, but the work is not done. Here are some things you should be thinking about in June:

Hot crops like corn, zucchini, squash (all cucurbits), peppers, and potatoes can be planted now, if you haven't already. Those who planted in May will have a head-start with some of the hot weather we had towards the end of the month - not withstanding the folks in Newfoundland who got snow!

Once you get germination and your garden is starting to reveal itself, mulch! 
A 5 cm layer of mulch can cut down watering by 70% and weeding by 90%. Mark uses shredded cedar or pine bark mulch, and Ben uses straw. To each their own.

Fast growing flowers can be sown now wherever you have a blank space in the garden. There are lots of great wildflower mixes out there that can bring pollinators to your garden. An easy way to plant these is by pouring the seed mix into a bucket with some dry potting mix, sand or vermiculite (one packet/25 sq ft). Pour the seed/sand or soil mixture back and forth between two buckets until they are fully mixed. Broadcast the seed by hand over a bed of soil and rake it in.

Roses, peonies and clematis will start flowering this month - get out there and make sure they are supported before they fall over under the weight of their massive blossoms!

Containers can be planted up now with tender annuals. Feed them once with a feed-and-forget fertilizer (slow release), and add a healthy amount of compost to the potting mix for season-long performance.

Herbs can be planted
right along side the rest of your containers and harvested immediately. 

Be careful not to over water; with the exception of Basil, most herbs like to dry out between watering.

Stake your tomatoes! Getting them off the ground will double your crop. We like the Mark's Choice Spiral Stake...not just because it has Mark's name on it. 

Mark chose this product because it is the easiest way to stake, save yourself the hassle of tying tomatoes 

Mark's Choice Through the Garden Gate garden tour is on June 9th and 10th. 

The largest tour of private gardens in Canada in support of the Toronto Botanical Garden, and this year we upgraded our support to title sponsorship as we believe it will be the best tour yet. 
The homes of Windfield Estates will be featured this year, which is a community built around the former estate of businessman E.P. Taylor. This year's headquarters is at the Toronto Botanical Garden itself. More information here.

Water, and wait! Once everything is in the ground, make sure you employ strategies to conserve water while you wait for the garden to crest its peak and the veggie bounty to start flowing. More on water-wise gardening next month.

Last Friday we were at a Fish Fry in Wellesley, Ontario to raise money for a local pond restoration.  We had the opportunity to catch up with some friends.

Shauna and Kirk are role models for us in the way they have provided an incredible place to play, for their children, Erik and Megan. 

We are big believers that the key to getting kids into the garden is to provide a space that is "theirs", something Shauna and Kirk have done so well. 

Highlights include a hobbit hole, a "graffiti tunnel", chickens, an outdoor "mudcake kitchen", wildflower gardens and vegetable beds galore, many of which are managed entirely by the kids. This yard is a paradise for kids and parents alike - something we can all aspire to. 

Mark and Ben
Merchants of beauty

Help us find Toronto's most beautiful gardens.  Let's recognize our green-thumbed residents and business owners for helping to beautify our city. 

Mark's Choice and Landscape Ontario are proud to sponsor this contest.

Prizes include Mark's Choice gardening supplies from Home Hardware and the winning gardens will be recognized at awards ceremonies.

Garden Contest Categories include:
Residential - traditional
Residential - environmental/pollinator habitat
High Density Residential - condos, apartments, multi-family dwellings
Commercial - non residential businesses
Community - schools, churches 

Entries must include a photo of the garden.
Deadline is July 9, 2018

To nominate a garden, visit for more info. 
We have tickets!

The Aurora Garden Club presents their special (100th anniversary edition) annual garden tour.

How does your garden grow? The Club welcomes you to  stroll, pause and get inspired by a diverse group of their very own members gardens by joining them for the Aurora Garden Club's Annual Tour of Gardens. 

Date: June 24

The owners of these private paradises will be available to answer all your questions. This is a self guided tour, rain or shine, from 12:00 Noon to 4:30 P.M.
We have 2 tickets for this Garden Tour to give away.  If you are interested, tell us what your favourite perennial plant is and why.  We will randomly draw the winner's name on June 7 at noon.  Email with the subject line 'Aurora Garden Tour tickets'.
Cooling Mist Stand

The new Mark's Choice cooling mist stand may be the perfect way to relax on a hot, humid day. After all, it reduces the temperature in the immediate area by up to 10 degrees.
The idea for this mist stand came from a roofing contractor I met in a Home Hardware store in Airdrie, Alberta. He was looking for something that would improve the productivity of his workers on a hot day.
We put our thinking caps on, and voila!

The result is a great way to stay cool and enjoy a long, hot summer day, at work or at play! The nozzles are multi-directional and can be adjusted. It is a low cost to run and not harmful to the environment.
Cool, indeed!
Home Hardware item# 5072-995

Watch the video
Just as cafes begin to unveil their sun-dappled patios, Harrowsmith is unveiling its Summer 2018 digital issue. With an ever-changing climate and topsy-turvy summer weather forecasts, don't fret. This issue provides ideas for both drought-tolerant and flood-resistant plants.

Have you heard about Ocean Wise cooking? Chef Jason Bangerter of Langdon Hall will introduce you to the catch of the day while our food editors serve up tacos in three tempting ways. There's lots of stuff that will surprise you in this issue. Did you know that Ontario has a shrimp farm? Don't miss out on what's trending! 

Available online now.
Photo by Britt Noll
In the May issue of Gardening with Mark and Ben, we asked you to share a photo of your favourite spring blooms.
Thank you to everyone who shared their photo.
The photo with the most 'likes' won the Grand Prize:
A signed copy of my book The New Canadian Garden + A $50 gift card for Home Hardware + 4 packs of Mark's Choice vegetable seeds + a copy of the 2018 Harrowsmith Almanac. Congratulations to Britt Noll.
The next 5 photos to receive the most 'likes' won: a copy of my book The New Canadian Garden + 4 packs of Mark's Choice Vegetable seeds + a copy of the 2018 Harrowsmith Almanac. Congratulations to Debbie Glover, Marlene Knezevich, Norm Dyck, Betty Riley and Cathy King.
You can view all of the photos here.
For our June contest, we invite you to show us your favourite plant.
Include a sentence to explain "why this is your favourite plant".

We hope your photos will encourage gardeners to try something new this year.
Send one photo to

We will post all photos on Mark's Facebook page.
The photo with the most 'likes' will win the Grand Prize:
A signed copy of my book The New Canadian Garden + A $50 gift card for Home Hardware + 4 packs of Mark's Choice vegetable seeds.
The next 5 photos to receive the most 'likes' will win: a copy of my book The New Canadian Garden + 4 packs of Mark's Choice vegetable seeds.
Vote for your favourite photo!
Deadline for entry: June 7, 2018.
Deadline for voting is June 10, 2018.
Enter today!
Last week, we spent some time in the garden shooting new 'How To' videos. We hope you enjoy them.

June 2 - Mark will be at  Cobourg Home Hardware for their Mark Cullen Approved Garden Centre event 

June 3 - Ben will be at PACE strawberry social

June 6 - Mark will be at Proudfoots Home Hardware in Stellarton, Nova Scotia

June 7 - Mark will be at Windsor Home Hardware in Windsor, Nova Scotia

June 15 - Mark and Ben will at Orillia Home Hardware from 10 am to 2pm.

June 21 - Ben is speaking to the Trenton Horticulture Society


Golfing sold out BUT still room for sponsorships.  

All positions for golfing at our second annual golf tournament are sold out. With thanks to all of our patrons who have signed up.

We do have sponsorship positions however! And we would be delighted to hear from you if you would like to sponsor a hole, a meal or numerous other opportunities.

An anonymous donor is matching all sponsorships, so please, think about this!

Your sponsorship dollars will produce a tax receipt and your name or that of your company will be exposed to 100 golfers on August 23rd.

Please contact Brenda Hensley for more information.

With thanks to all!
Mark, Jim and the golf tournament committee.

Stay in Touch 
Mark's Gardening Connections  

Toronto Star
Home Hardware

Gardening Events
Event Schedule

My monthly Event Listings are so popular we were running out of room in the newsletter.  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.