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By: Therese Le

A third generation career gardener, Mark Cullen is a Canadian horticultural treasure. He recently spoke with Culture Magazin, sharing his extensive knowledge so readers can get ready for the growing season.

What is the first step to a beautiful garden?

Ninety per cent of the success you enjoy in your garden is the result of proper soil preparation. There is no substitute for compost.  Lay it down 2-4 cm thick on your entire plot.  Let the earth worms pull it down and incorporate into the soil.

What trends are you are seeing?

Three come to mind. Water features, which are the best way to attract pollinators and create bio diversity. Native plants since they do well in our climate, and outdoor entertainment areas for those who can afford them.

What are the biggest mistakes Canadian gardeners make?

There are four big common mistakes: Not preparing the soil before planting; planting the wrong plants in the wrong place; overwatering; and not planning their landscape.

What plants bloom all season?

Most annual flowering plants will last all season. Some perennials options are rudbeckia, veronica and Shasta daisy.

What are some suggestions you have for green plants that will make a nice background for blooming plants too?

Hosta is a very hearty perennial that provides a lush, low backdrop for colourful blossoms.

Do you have any tips for pairing up blooms within your garden? (What looks good with what, colour schemes, by breed/ season.)

It is up to the individual. What do you like? Plant that.

Advice for urban dwellers who live in smaller spaces with terraces or balconies?

Do your homework and consider what you want. You’ll need to think about exposure (sun/shade), height, blossom colour, and if you want to attract bees and butterflies with pollinator plants. Also, do you want a plant that has a fragrance? Or do you want something that is edible such as herbs or tomatoes?

Mark Cullen
Mark Cullen

Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, Order of Canada recipient, author and broadcaster. Mark reaches over two million Canadians every week through various media outlets. As a writer, Mark Cullen is a best-selling author and has written over 20 books with 500,000 prints in Canada.  He’s the gardening editor for multiple Canadian magazines including Harrowsmith Canadian AlmanacHarrowsmith Garden Digest, Active Life Magazine and Reno and Décor Magazine, a feature writer for Home at Home magazine, and a weekly contributor for the Toronto Star’s gardening column. This year, Mark was winner of the Garden Media Person of the Year at the Canadian Garden Tourism Awards hosted by the Canadian Garden Council.