The other day after an appointment took me to a part of town that I haven’t been to for quite a while, I decided to enjoy the sunny day and take a walk down to a park (which is south of Carlton Street and West of Sherbourne), called Allan Gardens.
This is an area that I know very well from the past, as I once lived down the street from the park for a summer between years at university and again for a year and a half after graduation. I also had a summer job for 6 summers, for part of high-school and throughout university, at a Home for The Aged in the area.
So even though I haven’t really been in the vicinity much since moving further west, it was all very familiar, as though I was remembering it from a slightly fuzzy dream.
Allen Gardens is one of the city’s oldest parks, the land having been donated to the city by a local politician named George Allan, back in 1858. It was given with the stipulation that it would be made into a garden that anyone could enjoy, and that going there would always be free of charge.
^ I found this old photo on the City of Toronto Website, taken in 1927, coincidentally from almost the same angle I took my picture. ^
The first of the 6 greenhouses that are now there, was the domed one charmingly called the Palm House. It was built 113 years ago in 1910, replacing the original pavilion that had burned down in 1902. The additional rooms, were added over the next few decades, with a more recent addition of one built in 1932 on the grounds of the University of Toronto and painstakingly moved to Allen Gardens in the early 2000s.
Today there are a total of 16,000 square feet inside the greenhouses, plus some large outside gardens. They are divided into various sections, that require their own unique growing conditions, such as Palms, Tropical Plants, Cacti and Orchids.
There is also a beautiful gold fish pond and another where some turtles live.
If you’re interested in reading more about Allan Gardens, there is a website here.
In my younger years when I walked through the park and past the gorgeous looking greenhouses, I didn’t know that they were a public place. The greenhouse never seemed to be open when I went by since it was always going to and from work, so before 8:30 am and after 5:00. But I did get to peek through the windows and enjoy the outdoor plants and the beauty of the mysterious quiet building.
So on this particular day recently, I really did not expect to be able to go inside and was pleasantly surprised to find a door open, which I could quietly slip through. The sensation was quite stunning, as though I had just found a portal taking me to a peaceful and enchanted place. I half expected to see a faery flitting about or a gnome hanging her tiny laundry on a clothesline made of twigs and vine.
I walked from room to room, along the little paths and hallways, taking in plants and flowers which were so different that they seemed to be from a different world altogether. Who would have thought that I would find a Banana Plant sprouting fruit in Canada?
And into the cactus garden …
^ First time using the self-timer on my little ‘out-and-about’ camera ^
To simply say it was beautiful feels like an understatement.
Aside from a couple of gardeners I spotted working quietly here and there, and a few other wanderers, I was alone with all this beauty. I lost track of time and can’t tell you how long I was there.
A look at their site when I got home got me very excited to go back. In the winter you can go through in candlelight.
Thank you for taking a look.