Meeting point is outside the main entrance to the building. Note tours take place rain or shine, the majority of the time will be spent touring the TBG’s beautiful gardens which is flat, accessible terrain, as is the TBG building as well.
Join Gail M. Murray (member) and Susan Lipchak as they lead us on this tour of Toronto Botanical Garden (TBG)/Edwards Gardens.
RTOERO District 23, North York will be subsidizing the event by providing free parking for non-Members of TBG – do not pay at the Parking Machine. There is ample parking, and the gardens are serviced by bus.
Below is an excerpt of Gail’s article in the Spring 2023 edition of STONY Bridges. Not all highlights in her article will be included in this tour due to the need to accommodate members with mobility issues, but participants are invited to stay on or return to explore the gardens in greater depth. Gail took the beautiful photographs featured in this post.
At the entrance, notice the dolomite elephant by the living green sculpture of Cornelian Cherry and Purple Beech. You will stroll down the Entry Garden designed by Dutch nurseryman Piet Oudolf whose new wave planting style combines perennials and grasses. There’s a structure to the tour, yet blooms are ever-changing. Their rhythmic swaying adds drama to this sophisticated meadow. Bees love Coneflowers and Catmint. In spring, bulbs reign, rifts of Iris, Tulips and Daffodils; Peonies are the queen in June, and by July, it feels like you are wandering through a meadow among fluttering Monarchs.
Open the black wrought iron gates and enter Floral Hall Courtyard – my “Secret Garden” – designed to thrill your senses. Hear water ripple down the water curtain, see mauve wisteria and trimmed boxwood, smell fragrant David Austin Roses, touch fuzzy Lambs’ Ears and straight soldier Horsetail, and enjoy the peace and serenity of a green and white palette. The main building houses offices, bathrooms, a large auditorium (lectures, plant sales, and wedding receptions), a teaching classroom, an eclectic gift shop, and the most extensive horticulture library in Ontario.
You will wander Westview Terrace, a sheltered area with aromatic plants (Viburnum, Daphne, Lavender), delicate Faerie Roses, waterfalls, and a water channel to soften the cool hardscaping of the paved courtyard.
Sculpture, long a tradition in formal French (Versailles) and Italian Renaissance gardens (Villa d’Este), is becoming popular in North America. In 2018, Toronto Botanical Garden hosted Zimsculpt displaying over one hundred pieces of hand-carved stone from Zimbabwe, Africa. A sleek heron stands tall in the Westview Terrace. The Garden Web, a stunning nine-meter-high stainless steel modern sculpture by Ontario College of Art graduate Ron Baird, gleams against the brilliant blue, a piece of whimsy and imagination.
The Knot Garden demonstrates the formal art of shaping and pruning plants into geometric patterns, mostly Boxwood, Japanese Yew, and Privet. These formal gardens were popular in 17th and 18th century France, Versailles, and the Gardens of Love at Chateau Villandry in the Loire Valley.
Continue walking to the wooded area at the end of the Carpet Beds. Here members of the Milne family lie at rest in a private cemetery. The Milnes were Scottish settlers who farmed this area in 1817 and ran a mill on Wilket Creek. In autumn, it’s magical to descend the winding pathway through the forest of golden Maples to the creek in the valley.
From the Carpet Beds, head to Rupert Edward’s original barn (café) and stables. The Edwards Summer Music Series free concerts are held in this large courtyard. The music varies from jazz to rock and roll to flamenco.
Donated by the Toronto Historical Society, the bronze plaque delineates the park’s early history. Rupert Edwards purchased the property (31 acres) in 1954 to fulfill his dream of a country estate with wide open spaces. Calling it Springbrook Farm, he set about creating one of the finest landscape gardens in Toronto, including a nine-hole golf course and rockery of Credit Valley stone to prevent erosion. Ten years later, when developer E.P. Taylor was creating Don Mills, one of the first subdivisions, Taylor offered Mr. Edwards $500,000, a considerable sum at the time. Fortunately for us, Mr. Edwards sold his property to the city of Toronto for $150,000 with the stipulations his name would remain, and it would always be free.
When the Edward’s home burned down in 1962, up-and-coming architect Raymond Moriyama was chosen to design a shelter on the foundation of the former home – a shady respite and perfect vantage point to view the valley. Moriyama created the Civic Garden Centre, The Bata Shoe Museum, and The Ontario Science Centre. Japanese tea house and west coast themes are evident in his design.
The charming fountain and stonework by the towering Willow trees are the creations of Len Cullen, who later developed Weall and Cullen Nurseries (now Sheridan). Len’s son, a renowned garden writer, Mark Cullen, is an honorary patron and huge supporter of TBG.
In addition to fabulous gardens, TBG offers horticulture courses, a hands-on teaching program for TDSB students, various events such as book launches, craft shows, yoga in the garden, plant sales and Through the Garden Gate – the most exquisite garden tour in Ontario – spotlighting a different area of the city each time, e.g. Rosedale, Swansea, The Beach – where members of the public can discover charming private gardens.
Note: After retiring from teaching, Gail became a volunteer tour guide at Toronto Botanical Gardens.
Registration Fee: $10.00/pp (free for TBG members)
Parking Fee: FREE (subsidized by RTOERO District 23, North York)
Capacity: 45 participants
Registration Cut-off Date: Friday, June 16, 2023