Horticulture? An insect hotel? These are a few of the insights gardening guru Mark Cullen provided us as he graced us with his presence for our gardening webinar On Friday April, 30th. We got a glimpse into Mark’s mind and living room as he waved down a FedEx delivery guy and hosted from his own home!
Mark is an absolute encyclopedia of knowledge when it comes to plants and cowrote Escape to Reality with his son Ben Cullen in hopes of opening our eyes up to the possibilities of gardening. In this session, he definitely brought to light some concepts we were not aware of.
We are quite used to looking outside and seeing green- our world is saturated in it! We almost take it for granted or in technical terms we have “Plant Blindness”. This is a form of cognitive bias, which in its broadest meaning, is a human tendency to ignore plant species. After all, we wouldn’t picnic on our driveway but we subconsciously gather in lush areas and forget to appreciate them.
Horticulture – a term Mark uses quite often, is the nurturing of a garden and all it has to offer us. From producing food to the ornamental aspects, this term is not to be confused with agriculture. The Eden project is a popular attraction in England that demonstrates this. It acts as a zoo for plants. It is a vast garden consisting of a variety of ecosystems and biome domes representing different parts of the world. We learned that The Brits are experts at horticulture (the equivalent of Canadians’ expertise in hockey!)
England is also where Mark was introduced to “Insect Hotels”. No, these aren’t 2 star hotels with crawling bugs. These are the critters we need in order to have thriving gardens! Pollinators are a key players to our flora and we can even create architectural features or homes for them in our backyards!
An Alternative to Food Banks
Mark shines light on the importance of Community Food Centers. These are gardens that have been put in place to combat poverty and food insecurity. These allow access to free, high-quality food and the space and tools to develop cooking and gardening skills. See Toronto’s own Regent Park Community Garden.
A common question was asked at the end of the webinar “What is a tip you would give for anyone trying to grow a garden on a condo balcony?” Marks answer? The bigger the better! Increase the volume of your soil and watch your plants thrive. Also, the higher the condo, the windier it is which means plants dry out faster and also need to be wind tolerant. He follows to mention that the pandemic has doubled the percentage of urban gardening. It has forced people to look at where they live and make the most out of it!
If you enjoyed this blog and would like to view Mark’s webinar, please click the link above. If you have any questions for us please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.