Mark and Ben Cullen's newsletter

"November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.
With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.
The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring."

~ Clyde Watson

There is a temptation to go into November kicking and screaming, 
"No, not No-vember!".
We are past the peak of fall colour and haven't yet started feeling the Christmas holiday cheer. Unless you work in retail.

No, in No-vember we see the greys, browns and yellows that were there all along. And that's not so bad - the trunks and branches which hold the leaves, and the soil which supports everything. It has been there all along, but in November it stares blankly at us before tucking under a blanket of snow. The orange and red flourish of October makes a stunning time of year to celebrate Thanksgiving, but it is worth taking pause in November to recognize these unsung heroes of the garden.

In the spirit of ongoing Thanksgiving, we are thankful for a new venture by our friend Michael de Pencier who recently helped to launch "GrandTrees Walk".

GrandTrees Climate Solutions is a $1 million campaign to plant trees and restore local ecosystems. The name "Grand"-Trees touches on the intergenerational importance of this gesture - grandparents planting trees to help repair the planet for their grandchildren. On May 10th, 2020 Mark will be walking with his newest grandson Robin, just born on September 17th, 2019. Find out more at
Another charitable endeavour that we are supportive of is the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign.
We are planting 117,000 trees on the Highway of Heroes, one for each of Canada's war dead since 1812.

This month, the month of Remembrance, a private donor is matching all cash donations up to $100,000.
This is a remarkable opportunity to say "thank you" to our military in a meaningful and lasting way. Details at
Have a great November, in and out of the garden.
Yours as ever,
Mark and Ben Cullen
Merchants of Beauty

Fertilize the lawn if you haven't done so already. Fall is the most important time of year to fertilize the lawn as this is when the grass is stocking piling sugars into its roots to survive the long cold winter. Fertilize with a proper fall fertilizer now, and your lawn will be the first to jump back in the spring.

Amaryllis bulbs - start your engines! Every year on our Facebook page we find the Mark's Choice Amaryllis Photo Competition is one of our most popular. Shameless plug: you would be hard-pressed to find a bigger, better quality bulb than the Mark's Choice Amaryllis. Vetting suppliers for this product was a thorough process, and we are proud of every bulb that hits Home Hardware's shelves.

Fruit trees - wrap it up - your fruit trees will benefit from a plastic spiral wrap on the trunk to protect them from hungry rodents this summer. Especially younger fruit trees can die easily of girdling if a mouse starts gnawing to get at those sugars under the thin bark.

Evergreens - also wrap it up - with two layers of burlap. One layer to protect against sunscald, and another to protect against wind. If you're a gambler you can try your chances with mature plants in protected locations, but if you're looking at younger evergreens - especially juniper and cedar - in windy, salty environments, it's not a bet we would advise you to take. Watch our new video.
Broadleaved evergreens - hit 'em with Wilt-pruf to prevent winter desiccation. Apply to your rhododendrons, holly and boxwood when temperatures are above freezing.
Garlic - plant it! If you haven't already. This is by far one of the most rewarding crops, the grocery store stuff just doesn't stack up. Check out our YouTube tutorial for How-To.

Dig yah dahlias. Sure, it seems like a lot of work - but it's worth it. Very few flowers put on such a spectacular show for such a long time, so resist the urge to just let them rot away in the soil. Dig up those tubers, let them dry in the sun for a couple of days, then pop them in a paper yard bag with shredded newspaper or peat moss in a cool, dry place. Put a reminder on your calendar for March to plant them up again for next year's performance.
Okay, now that we've given you more work by telling you to dig those dahlias, here's a freebie - leave your fall flowering ornamental grasses, coneflower, rudebeckia and all of the autumn flowering plants that produce a seed head. This provides habitat and forage for over-wintering birds, not to mention winter interest in the garden.
And another freebie - spare yourself the yard bags and rake your leaves right into the garden, or into your compost pile. There is a lot of nutrients there that can be taken up by the soil if you just let them decompose. If you want to accelerate the decomposition, you can hit them once with the mulching mower. Watch our new video.


We've been busy shooting new videos in the garden.  Let us know what you think.  We enjoy constructive criticism and feedback.

If you have a topic you would like us to cover, shoot us an email suggestion:  We'll do our best to add these to our library of videos.
Birdseed storage bin
We feed the birds year-round in our yards. Many people wait until winter to fill their birdfeeders.
We really enjoy watching birds visit the yard throughout the winter. It's time stock up on birdseed.
We keep bags of birdseed in these storage bins to make sure mice are not a problem.
25" handle for easy lifting
Handle locks lid to prevent accidental spilling
Extra grip under base for easy tipping
Sturdy enough for birdseed, pet food, ice melt and more
Home Hardware item# 5453-005


We write a weekly column for the New In Homes & Condos section of the Saturday Toronto Star.
In case you missed it, these are the exciting gardening/environment columns we wrote in October.

Want to help birds by learning more about them? Join Project FeederWatch!
If you have access to a birdfeeder and the internet, you can help Canada's birds. As little as 15 minutes of your time between November and April will help scientists at Birds Canada and the Cornell Lab or Ornithology learn more about bird populations in North America through the Project FeederWatch citizen science program.

Evening Grosbeaks
photo credit: Gord Belyea

Birds are an important indicator of environmental health and the results of Project FeederWatch inform conservation efforts. Over 33 years, the project has shown the good fortunes of some species such as the Cooper's Hawk. Birds of prey populations in Canada have increased 110% since the 1970s, largely because the pesticide DDT was banned. Cooper's Hawks have gravitated to backyards, possibly because they have learned that bird feeders create large groupings of prey.
Project FeederWatch is not only a great way to support research and conservation, it's also a chance for families and friends to learn more about birds, have fun and connect with nature. No experience is necessary. Birds Canada provides materials to help with bird identification. FeederWatchers are asked to select periodic two-day intervals throughout the winter and count birds for a least 15 minutes over those two days. They then submit their sightings online. There is no minimum requirement for counting; even if a FeederWatcher only submits one or two counts all season, they are still providing important information about the birds at their location.
The 33rd Project FeederWatch season is fast approaching. Anyone can join Project FeederWatch in Canada by making a donation of any amount to Birds Canada. To join, visit, call 1-888-448-2473, or email . FeederWatchers will receive a poster of common feeder birds, a calendar, last season's results, and access to online data tools.
Good Birding!
Kerrie Wilcox
Bird Studies Canada /feederwatch
Twitter: @PFWCanada

It's getting cold outside, but you can warm up with the latest Winter issue of Harrowsmith magazine! Check out tips from us, Mark and Ben, on growing and drying hot peppers. 

Meet Quebec homesteaders, see how photography is preserving the past in rural Ontario, and check out delicious recipes for your next winter feast. 
Plus, tips on winter camping, attracting birds to your property through the season, electric floor heating and more! 

It's all in the Winter issue of Harrowsmith, on sale November 18.  
Great Holidays Gifts - Subscribe now.   
BIG PRIZES THIS MONTH! (and lots of them)


This month, we encourage you to share a photo of your yard/garden today.

Some of you are dealing with snow, while others are still planting bulbs. Give us a glimpse into your garden at this time of year. Make sure to tell us where you are located.
Email one photo to
We will post your photo on Mark's Facebook page.
The 10 winners, who get the most 'likes' will receive a copy of the Winter issue of Harrowsmith magazine and a bag of 15 Liberation75 Tulips. (to order your bag of Liberation 75 tulips go to
The Grand Prize winner will also receive a $50 Home Hardware Gift Card, 15 Liberation75 Tulips and our new book Escape to Reality. Courtesy Mark's Choice Lawn and Garden products.
Encourage your friends and family to 'vote' for your photo to increase your chance of winning.
Deadline for entry, October 6, 2019
Deadline for voting, October 20, 2019
Enter today!


Grand prize winning photo by Terri R.

In the September issue of Gardening with Mark and Ben, we invited you to submit a photo of your fall decor.
The 5 winners, with the most 'likes' received a copy of the 2020 Harrowsmith Almanac and a packet of Mark's Choice wildflower seeds. Congratulations to: Linda D, Al B, Deborah C, Kenda C and Stephanie C.
The Grand Prize winner also received a $50 Home Hardware Gift Card, courtesy of Mark's Choice Lawn and Garden products. 
Congratulations to Terri R.

Stay in Touch 
Mark and Ben's Gardening Connections  

Toronto Star
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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.