July 08, 2015

Remembering the Toronto Botanical Garden

entrance

When you visit Toronto, Ontario, make sure to set aside at least a few hours to see the Toronto Botanical Garden. Even if you've been there in the past, you'll probably want to go back. I know I do.

When I visited the gardens about a month ago for the Garden Bloggers' Fling, I was impressed with the diversity of plant life in the small, four-acre property. I also noticed the creativity of the horticulturists, volunteers, planners, designers, and others involved with this "magical oasis in the city," as it describes itself.

succulent collage

The first area that caught my eye was Terrace Garden, near the entrance. The planners used construction rubble to form the architecture of this west-facing slope, which resembles a quilt made of succulents and Mediterranean, drought-tolerant perennials. I could have spent hours simply observing this exquisite collection.

illumination flame

Just outside the Center for Horticulture, was a lovely display of seasonal perennials, including 'Illumination Flame' Foxglove (a Digitalis hybrid, syn. Digiplexis), which can survive to USDA zone 8, but has been known to overwinter in much colder zones in warm microclimates. Apparently, this is a popular purchase at the garden's yearly plant sale.

Paul Z

One of the highlights of our visit in June was an animated, humorous presentation by Director of Horticulture Paul Zammit, on creativity and fun with potted arrangements.

potted

Paul mentioned he frequently uses Parsley in his creations, like this mixed planting at the base of an Arborvitae (Thuja spp.).

pots

All the potted arrangements were exquisite.

I also noticed succulents everywhere.

more succulents 2

In bedded plantings,

more succulents

In pots,

powder room

And even combined with orchids and graceful lighting in the restroom.

knot garden

It was great fun to climb to the top of the Spiral Mound, to see the Knot Garden.

gathering

And to view the Courtyard, where attendees later gathered for a buffet dinner.

border

The mixed plantings were impressive--like this one featuring tiers of Alyssum, Heucheras, Acteas, and Peonies.

A few of the other plants I noticed and photographed included:

bowmans root
Bowman's Root (Gillenia trifoliata)

clematis
Clematis trained on an obelisk

knautia
Knautia macedonica

peony salvia
Peony (Paeonia spp.) framed by purple Salvia

iris
Bearded Iris hybrid

coral bell collage
Various Coralbells (Heuchera spp.)

One thing very evident at the Toronto Botanical Garden was an emphasis on sustainability and environmental responsibility.

bee hotel collage

This display explained how to create a tripod bee hotel, and showed an example.

Thanks to fellow Flinger Janet Davis, a Toronto Botanical Garden supporter and photographer extraordinaire, some of us also had the pleasure of visiting the pollinator garden for an "up close and personal" view of the botanical garden's urban bee hives.

bees1

Beekeeper Mylee Nordin, with the Toronto Beekeeping Cooperative, greeted us with a smile and an enthusiastic explanation of the garden's five working honeybee hives.

bees2

It was fascinating to watch Mylee at work.

bees3

She shared several tidbits of information, including the fact that the hives are home to several types of honeybees--including German and Russian strains, which can better survive cold winters, but tend to be more defensive and aggressive.

bees5

We saw firsthand that the honeybees, native bees, and other pollinators have plenty of sources of high-quality nectar and pollen in the pollinator garden.

roses

twilite pb
Baptisias were in full, glorious bloom throughout Toronto. I believe this one is the hybrid
'Twilite Prairieblues.'

And on plants throughout the Toronto Botanical Garden.

view1

view2

view3

view5

view4

We witnessed pollinator heaven and plant "eye candy" in every direction!

The Toronto Botanical Garden is planning a major expansion--from its current four acres to about 30 acres. You can read more about it by visiting this link: Toronto Botanical Garden Eyes Expansion.

56 comments:

  1. That sounds fascinating. And beautiful plants, perfectly planted. I love the Gillenia.

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    1. Yeah, it's a wonderful place. I think I've seen the Gillenia before at other botanical gardens, but it's not common around here. It's a beautiful, photogenic plant.

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  2. Only a garden blogger would think to take a photo in the restroom:) Seriously, though, what a beautiful place--the knot garden reminded me of our trip last year to the Rotary Gardens. I never would have thought to use parsley as an accent in a container--now that's a tip I will have to remember! How much fun it must have been to visit the beehives up close.

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    1. Ha! It's funny that you mention it because several of us took photos of that arrangement! And, yes, I was thinking about the Rotary Botanical Garden, too, when I saw the knot garden. The parsley looks great, doesn't it? I'm wondering if it would attract cats and rabbits and chipmunks. I'll have to do some research ...

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  3. I adore the fact that we were all there at the same time and what stood out for each of us was completely different. Makes me want to go back and do it all again! Such lovely shots and those pollinators are Bee-utiful!

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    1. I agree. It's really incredible that we all had different impressions and took so many unique photos. Thanks. Yes, I want to go back, too. It was so much fun and such a great learning experience at the same time!

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  4. Hi Beth, sounds like you had a fun visit at the Toronto Botanical Garden. I like that sustainability and environmental responsibility are important topics in that garden. Overall this botanical garden seems to be well tended and cared for and it looks like they have the funds to do it. To be able to climb a mound to see the knot garden from there is really cool!
    Christina

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    1. Yes, it was great, Christina. It's amazing what professionals can do with just four acres. It overwhelmed me, frankly, in a good way. The mound climbing was a spiral journey, and the views at the top were great!

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  5. And we didn't even tell you about the parking lot, which is an interesting stormwater management story in itself! Glad you had the chance to share one of our favourite garden spots in Toronto, Beth. It was great to meet you, too.

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    1. Ah, I think I read about the parking lot when I was checking out more information about the botanical garden. Also, the green roof. Unfortunately, I didn't have a picture of that. Very commendable projects. Yes, the botanical garden was wonderful. You and the committee put on an amazing Fling, Helen. I was so glad to meet you, too!

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  6. Beautiful photos of the garden, Beth. And I'm so happy you saw the bees and met Mylee! I think of them as "my bees" too, because I'm there every week photographing them on the TBG's bee-friendly flora when I'm in the city.

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    1. Thank you, Janet. And thanks sooo much for introducing us to Mylee and the bees! That was great fun! You and the bees are so fortunate to be able to spend time at such a beautiful botanical garden.

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  7. Beautiful! Maybe they can send some bees my way! :)

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    1. Yes, it's a great place. You'll have to check it out! :)

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  8. Looks like a memorable trip. Love the bearded iris and baptisias.

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    1. The Baptisias were beautiful all around town. Some Irises were blooming, too. Actually, many, many plants seemed to be at the peak of bloom. We were there at a very good time.

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  9. A botanical garden with funds and enthusiastic staff and volunteers is a wonderful place. Would love to visit this one, one day.

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    1. Yes, you would enjoy it, I'm sure, Diana. Indeed, the staff and volunteers were friendly and fun, and seemed to enjoy their work. It would be fun to go back during a different season, too.

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  10. Beth what a great visit to this garden....I loved the diversity of plants and the clever container plants. I have 'Twilite Prairieblues' which is just full of bees when in bloom...and I have to be careful not to get in their way.

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    1. Thanks, Donna. I love Baptisias. They were stunning in Toronto while we were there. The containers were very creative.

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  11. What a stunning place, great photos of the flowers and would have liked to see the bees..
    Amanda xx

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    1. Yes, the bees were definitely a highlight of the entire trip. I love the idea that the botanical garden puts effort and joy into supporting the area's honeybees and the native bees. Great place!

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  12. Lucky you. I would have enjoyed the visit to the bee keeping roof garden. I only remember seeing from inside. The place was beautiful and I am lucky to live close enough to see it again. I did enjoy Paul's demo too. He is an entertaining guy.

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    1. Yes, you are fortunate to live close so you can go back regularly. Paul was wonderful. I laughed so hard during his presentation, and learned so much, too.

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  13. Great post and lovely, artistic photos.

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    1. Thank you, Rebecca! Wasn't it fun?! I miss all the new friends, too, including you. :)

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  14. "Defensive and aggressive" is not a quality I would appreciate in honeybees. You were brave to observe without the benefit of the full protective covering. The gardens are beautiful and I especially enjoyed the view from atop the Spiral Mound.

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    1. Yes, I found that interesting. I guess it makes sense that hearty creatures have a little attitude! ;-) I guess that's true of us humans, too. We didn't feel vulnerable. The hives are well-maintained, and we kept a safe distance. It truly amazes me how brave the beekeepers are, though!

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  15. Beautiful photos! I didn't even know about the bee hives. I think I spent most of my time in the Entrance Garden. I feel I need to go back to TBG and catch up on what i missed.

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    1. Thanks, Jason! I want to go back, too. The Entrance Garden and the Terrace Garden were spectacular! I was a little overwhelmed by that point in the day, so it would be great to go back fresh, on a day when I could take more time with each section.

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  16. Amazing! That's a really beautiful place to be visited! I'm really interested to the pot arrangement. So inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I know--aren't the potted arrangements wonderful?! You're welcome. It's a wonderful botanical garden if you're ever visiting Toronto.

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  17. Wonderful photos Beth! I really enjoyed the Toronto Botanical Gardens as well - it had been years since I had been there and I will definitely be going back at a much more leisurely pace. How lucky you were to be able to visit the hives - I would have really enjoyed that. And Paul was hilarious & talented, wasn't he...a pretty fantastic combination!

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    1. Thanks, Margaret! You're fortunate to live so close. The visit with the bees was special. And, yes, Paul was so much fun! I really enjoyed his presentation.

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  18. Nice! Those bees must feel like they live in a bee paradise. I don't think I've seen Bowman's Root before. Very pretty.

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    1. Yes, the bees there are very lucky. :) I think I've seen Bowman's Root at other botanical gardens, but it's not common around here. I can see adding it to my garden. I need to do more research about it.

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  19. Oh my gosh, I would have LOVED to have been there. The presentation by the Horticulture specialist would have been worth it all. I need something like that. I´ve never been wild about succulants, but they are gorgeous here. The bee keeper in their own garden!?! Perfect! How I admire that. The white peonies knocked me out as well as the clematis so perfectly trained--I've got to do that with mine. This was such fun, Beth, thank you.

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    1. Yes, I do believe you would have liked it, Susie. Thanks for your kind comments. I'm more and more enthusiastic about succulents. I just have to find a way to keep the chipmunks from digging in them. The white Peony framed with the purple Salvia was truly breathtaking. Sometimes certain combinations just seem right. :)

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  20. Nice photos and a nice tour. Thanks for the posting. Jack

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    1. Thanks! It was a wonderful trip. Jack, the next Fling is in Minneapolis--not too far from you!

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  21. Good to know.. We could do a day trip there... Michelle

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    1. Ah, yes. You are lucky to live close. You would like it, too, Michelle!

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  22. Wow, what a great place and exciting news about the expansion! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Yes, it's fabulous! I honestly can't believe it's currently only four acres. There's so much to see that I only scratched the surface in the few hours I was there.

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  23. Looks wonderful. I used to go to TO (Toronto, Ontario) as those of us who lived in the area always called it, all the time in the late 60s and early 70s. But I went for music and had no interest in gardens at the time! I grow Bowman's Root and it is a great plant. Is that a salvia behind the Allium in the third photo from the bottom?

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    1. Sounds like you had an interesting chapter of your life in the Toronto area! I truly didn't know much about it until I went there in June. Many of the gardens remind me of some of the fancier homes/gardens along Madison's lakes. It convinced me I need to do more garden tours here at home! Thanks for the info about Bowman's Root. I noticed it isn't native here, but weird ... because it's native in Illinois, and it's hardy to zone 5. Regarding the photo you mention, yes, it shows Salvia (not sure of the cultivar), Alliums, and Peonies, among others. It seemed everything was blooming at once while we were there!

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  24. That's a gorgeous place to visit, and I've never heard of it before...of course it's on the other side of the country for me...but still. Definitely a place to visit isn't it?

    I love the Bee hotel...and am trying to think where I can put one up here, because the little critters need all the help they can get.

    Jen

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    1. Interesting. Yes, of course there are many, many botanical gardens in the U.S. (and Canada) that I've never heard of. But one that's closer to you and in your country is on my bucket list: Butchart. Perhaps because it was built in an old quarry and at least parts of it are cottage-style ... not sure why, but I do want to see it. The bee hotel is nifty, isn't it?

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  25. Love the idea of using parsley in a potted arrangement! Something I will definitely do. The gardens are lovely. I really like the use of succulents. The quilted effect is wonderful.

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    1. I know! I think I'll do that next year (or maybe this year yet). The only problem is, I think the critters would want to eat it. Hmmmm... always the dilemmas. The succulents were incredible!

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  26. I missed a lot of the Botanic garden because I was tired and cold. But if I ever get a chance to go back to Toronto, I definitely want to visit it again to see everything I missed.

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    1. I know, I was washed out, too. I was feeling overwhelmed and giddy (as you know) by the time we got to TBG. ;-) Fortunately, I had a wonderful, short tour of it and liked what I saw. I want to go back!

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  27. What a great place! Love that knot garden - it looks so pretty! That's great that they emphasize sustainability too. We go up to Toronto every so often to visit family, maybe someday I'll get a chance to swing by the gardens :)

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    1. The knot garden was fun! All of it was fun! Yes, I highly recommend spending time at this garden. It's a beauty!

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  28. I agree with your assessment--what a fabulous garden. I'd love to visit again, especially after the expansion! Good luck to TBG, with their talent and drive, I know it will be great.

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  29. You know my immense interest for botanical gardens, your reportage is fantastic. Thanks!

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