Ask Mark: Newspaper column

Gardening Match Making

The idea of creating a relationship by exposing a shared interest is not a new one. For the last seven years the good people at The Stop Community Food Centre, here in Toronto, have offered a free match-making service for people who wish to garden but do not have access to a piece of property and property owners who don’t have the time or physical ability to put their soil to work for them. The idea brings soil and gardeners together, not necessarily people.


Horticulture: a Great Second Choice

Take a moment to examine your life: is this a time for change? I am speaking strictly on a professional level, so don’t get nervous. For many of us there is a time when we examine the work that we do day to day and realise, perhaps, there may be something more meaningful that we could do with the majority of our waking hours. Maybe it is time to consider a change in your career path.


Tips for Creating Biodiversity in Your Yard

This past Christmas I made several insect hotels in my wood working shop for some of the special people on my gift list. They were received graciously and at the same time with the common query: “What IS it?”


Gardening Destinations

I think that Canadian gardeners are world-class dreamers as we have a very long season to do it. With this in mind, I want to help direct the discussion about your travel plans for this year with a few suggestions of my own.


Last Minute Gardening Gifts

Know something about gardeners? They may be the easiest people on your gift-giving list to find gifts for. For one thing, you do not need to leave home to acquire (notice I am avoiding the use of the word ‘buy’?) an appropriate and exciting gift.


Amaryllis – No Naked Lady

December is a festive time and during the celebrations there is a good chance that you will visit with family, friends and neighbours.  When you are invited over to their place, protocol calls for a ‘hostess’ gift.  I recommend that you bring a gift amaryllis bulb to your host.  Why not?  It is portable, affordable,…


For the Birds

It was 3 years ago when I received a call from my friend David Love, the president of Bird Studies Canada, asking me if I would be interested in meeting some of their people and hosting a ‘bird-a-thon’ in Toronto.
The meeting was very impactful indeed and as a result I have learned so much about backyard birding that I almost feel like an expert. Well, not really. Fact is, I now know people like Jody Allair, a resident BSC biologist and science educator, who has forgotten more than I will ever learn about wild birds. And believe me, Jody does not forget much.
Here are some highlights of what I have learned.


Putting Your Garden to Bed

Winter is the most severe test of a gardener’s metal. What pops up through the soil next spring to a large extent will be determined by what you do in the next week or two.


Why Garden Organically?

There is never a bad time to think through our habits and why we have them. Now is as good a time as any to consider ‘going organic’.


The True Value of a Tree

The newly hatched ‘Highway of Heroes Living Tribute’ campaign endeavours to be just that: an ambitious plan to plant over 117,000 trees on the Highway of Heroes, between CFB Trenton, along the 401 to the Keele Street interchange where the coroners office is located. This is the route that every repatriated body takes after it arrives here from abroad [most recently from Afghanistan].


Contribute to Community Well Being

Whether you define yourself as a gardener or not I hope that you find my suggestions below helpful: these are my top four suggestions for making your yard, which is an integral part of the community around you, an environmentally better place for all.



You may be thinking that the gardening season is a long way off. Or you are just not thinking (of gardening) at all. Well, for those of us keeners, here are some reminders: