Christmas wishes

Ben and Mark Cullen

While visions of dumplings dance in their heads, we will leave the kids to make their own wishes.

Chances are, none of them are dreaming of dumplings or know what they are.

Adults may have their own dreams.

And wishes.

We have a few and seeing as this is the season for making wishes, here is a list of our top 5.

Perhaps there is a wish or two here that will inspire you to make a few wishes of your own.

The lesson of Christmas, of course, is to never stop believing.

A pollinator friendly world. Imagine if birds, bees and myriad other insects that pollinate over 30% of our food were not under threat. There is a buzz in our gardens that is as sweet as honey. Sweeter still, as this buzz is the sound of workers who never take a day off or complain about their task. They just get out there and buzz the flowers that produce the fruits and vegetables that feed us. It may be hard to imagine a threat-free life for pollinators when we so seldom think of them at all.

Truth is, they are easy to overlook. A mason bee is so small that you would have to bend over and concentrate to see one buzzing in your balsam.

Our wish is that all of us become more considerate of our activity as it relates to the protection and nurturing of nature’s pollinators. They are, after all, the cornerstone of our existence.

We wish that more people would embrace rot and decay. These are not words that garden communicators of the past would use to describe a great garden or a wonderful gardening experience. But gardeners HAVE changed. A visit to Great Dixter, the ancient British Garden we visited this past summer, is a good example. The Great part of Dixter, one of the most popular public gardens in the Queen’s realm, features a compost pile so old and so high you can drive a tractor through it.

What is the point? At the foundation of every great garden is an equally great compost pile.

Or some source of rich, organic material. To plant and nurture a garden without it makes less sense than growing the same crop on the same soil every year without replenishing the organic material that is drained from it each season. This is “strip mine farming”. It is not sustainable, and it is not smart. Rot and decay are our friends.

We wish for sunshine, roses, amazing sunsets and rain when needed. Of course, none of these things will occur quite when we planned. The sun will roast your potatoes mid summer, roses in Southern Ontario are now susceptible to Japanese beetles (thank you climate change), amazing sunsets will occur just infrequently enough to leave us breathless and rain will fall on someone’s parade.

Fact is that nature is in control of nature. For proof, just move out of your house for a year and don’t cut the grass, weed the patio or remove the leaves from your eaves. When you return, you will see thistles for lawn, hay for a patio and trees growing in your eavestroughs. THAT is the power of nature.

Our Christmas wish for you is that you will find nature this season in ways that never occurred to you before. We believe that all of us will. All we must do is put the phone away. Stop running and start sitting on the garden bench.

Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author, broadcaster, tree advocate and Member of the Order of Canada. His son Ben is a fourth-generation urban gardener and graduate of University of Guelph and Dalhousie University in Halifax. Follow them at, @markcullengardening, and on Facebook.