Ask Mark: Newspaper column

Grow Like a Pro: Pollinator Plants

Published in the Toronto Star July 2, 2016 You live with a balcony, patio or yard and you are thinking about how you can do something interesting with it.  The decline of the honey bee and monarch butterfly population has your attention.  “What if I planted something that helped to attract and nurture the beneficial insects…

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Grow Like a Pro: Veggies

Published in the Toronto Star June 25, 2016 Can you imagine yourself picking a wonderful harvest of food this summer and fall?  If so, this weekend would be a very good time to act.  We are venturing into that time of year when our days are longer and day time temperatures are higher: perfect for growing…

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Maintain Like a Pro

Published in the Toronto Star, June 18, 2016 Everyone knows this person.  They attend all of the family gatherings, play golf or sail or fish and play bridge.  They have time to cook and travel and yet, in spite of all of their busyness, they have a great looking lawn and garden.  How do they…

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Landscape Like a Pro

Published in the Toronto Star, June 11, 2016   You see them early in the morning traveling in herds, like baboons in the mist.  Usually driving a club-cab pick up truck full of bright vested, coffee toting professionals, a trailer in tow loaded with plants, equipment and dirt.  They are the implementers of the plan…

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Endless Colour

Published in the Toronto Star, June 4, 2016 Everyone loves to see colourful blossoms in the garden, but we forget why Nature created flowers in the first place: to attract pollinators.  Most of the activity in your garden, associated with the web of nature, hinges on sex and reproduction.  Keep that in mind this summer…

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The Sport of Gardening

Published in the Toronto Star, May 28, 2016 “He shoots, he scoooorrrres!”  What Canadian cannot relate to these words on some level?  Like you, I enjoy sports, some sports more than others.  I am a hockey fan (but not a player) and a golf player (but not a fan) and there was a time when…

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Top 10 Best Annual Flowers

Published in the Toronto Star, May 21, 2016 Twenty years ago, 60% of all annual flowers sold in Canada were impatiens.  Now they are near 0% (the ‘walleriana’ type).  My, how things have changed in the gardening landscape.  We have witnessed a huge shift in the flowering plant market, due in part to the downy…

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Top 5 Garden Herbs

Published in the Toronto Star, May 14, 2016 I am no cook.  But I can grow stuff!  I happen to be married to an excellent cook who not only possesses amazing natural talent in this department but cooking is her #2 passion (after knitting).  With a little coaching from the cook in the family, I…

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Gardening Success

Published in the Toronto Star, April 30, 2016 You have a dream of an amazing garden. Perhaps, in your mind’s eye, you can see plants loaded with colour galore, others hanging with fruit and vegetables in abundance.  You see songbirds, butterflies and hummingbirds calling in to your place, choosing it as their home this summer….

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To Do List

Published in the Toronto Star, April 23, 2016 It’s time to get growing. As you contemplate your options in the yard, allow me to help you get organised.  It is always more effective to approach a project with a plan. This is one of my now famous ‘fridge’ stories.  Read it, post it.  Reading electronically?…

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Weeds: Public Enemy #1

Published in the Toronto Star, April 16, 2016   I love to garden.  Maybe you love to garden too. All of us know some people who loves to garden. So, is there anything about gardening that gardeners really don’t like?  Yes. Weeding. Weeding is to gardening, what changing diapers is to parenting.  I love my…

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Pulses

Published in the Toronto Star, April 9, 2016    The United Nations have deemed this the Year of Pulses.  For most readers the idea of focusing on an obscure agricultural crop like this is likely of little interest. I am here to change that.  Fact is, pulses are huge right now and you do know…

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Super Garden Foods

Published in the Toronto Star, March 26th 2016 Of all the newsletters that I receive David Cohlmeyer produces one of the best.  He bills himself as a ‘Sustainable Good Foods Consultant’ [not be to confused with the bad foods variety]. In a recent publication David talks about the micro biome in our gut, where billions…

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Founding Gardeners

Published in the Toronto Star, March 26, 2016 Our relationship with Americans is complex, but we are influenced by them and close to them in more ways than one. That is why I was fascinated to learn that among the original pack of Revolutionaries, the first four Presidents of the United States enjoyed a relationship…

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Canada Blooms 20th Anniversary

Published in the Toronto Star, March 12, 2016   Some said that it could never be done. Others believed that it could. No one thought that it would grow and thrive for 20 years! Such are the sentiments around this years’ edition of the venerable Flower and Garden Festival, Canada Blooms. When the idea of a…

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To Educate, Share and Have Fun

Published in the Toronto Star, March 5, 2016 It is late winter and the gardening season can seem a long way off, unless you are connected with a network of like-minded people. People who share your interest (perhaps ‘passion’!) for the outdoors: plants, song birds, butterflies and a mix of community involvement and friendship. If this…

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Canada Blooms: Feature Gardens

Published in the Toronto Star, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016   In exactly two weeks the opening of the premier flower and garden festival on the continent occurs here in Toronto.  Canada Blooms is, indeed, the largest event of its kind in North America, with an expected attendance of more than 200,000 over the 10 days…

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Plan for the Best Birding Year Ever

Published in the Toronto Star Looking out my office window right now I would never have guessed that some species of birds are in steep decline.  I have 12 feeders and every one of them is well populated on this cold winter morning.  My supply of quality seed is depleting quickly but it is a…

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Research Results

There is a world of scientific (and some not-so scientific) research that illuminates many of the notions that we have about the gardening experience. For instance, we know that we feel better when we spend time in the natural environment of a conservation area, urban park or in our back yard: but why?

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Beyond Roses

Valentines Day is just around the corner and if I was a betting man (which I am not), I would wager that the vast majority of men will stagger into their local flower retailer and order up some roses for their sweetheart. Why am I so confident? A few years in the flower business taught me a thing or two. As sure as the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening, men will not take the risk of buying their sweetheart anything but a sure thing come Valentine’s Day.

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