Allan Gardens: An Oasis in the Middle of the City

Toronto Life
Allan Gardens Conservatory in Toronto
Allan Gardens Conservatory 

The Allan Gardens Park covers virtually the whole block from Jarvis St. to Sherbourne St. and Gerrard St. E. to Carlton St. But despite it’s size, many Torontonians don’t know of all the wonderful things that lie within its depths.

Covering Up Construction

There is some construction going on at the South side for the moment but thanks to some creative thinking, it adds more to the park than it takes away. The fence around the construction is completely covered in bright, beautiful paintings of first nations symbols and Canadian creatures. Kids will love trying to identify all the animals and the art gives you something far nicer to appreciate than simply looking at the cars rushing past on Gerrard St. E.

Allan gardens greenhouses
The beautifully landscaped park around the greenhouses

Beautiful Landscape

The park has dozens of trees which provide shade in the warmer months. But they aren’t too close together so if you want to throw around a frisbee or kick a ball it is very doable. You’ll just have to keep an eye out for people passing through as there are many pathways used for strolling and effective shortcuts. The grass is lush and well-kept, which makes it great for a picnic or to rest on and enjoy a good book. And the benches are numerous so it’s easy to find a place to sit. And unlike benches in some other parks they’re quite clean and graffiti-free. There are a variety of dedicated monuments such as water fountains, benches and statues so be sure to meander along all the paths and around the perimeter to get a full sense of the history and impact of the park.

Bring Your Pooch

On the North side there’s a dog park that is completely fenced in so your pooch can run around freely with the other pets. There are shady areas with benches if you want to relax or sunny sections for you and your pup to play.

The Allan Gardens Conservatory

If you’ve never been to the Allan Gardens Conservatory before, you really must stop in. The over 100 year old building is nestled in the middle of the park amongst flowers, bushes and trees which can make it easy to miss. But when you enter it it’s as though you’ve stepped into another world, completely cut off from the hustle and bustle of busy Toronto life. It’s open year-round, seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. And if you have any questions you can call them at 416-392-7288.

Allan gardens conservatpry cactus house
The Cactus House and the many cacti transfer you to a vast desert

There are historical boards set up around the Conservatory so you can learn a little more about the history of the space and how it came to be. There are also placards explaining what some of the different plants are so you can get a better sense of what you’re looking at.

Small pools and falling water have been created within the greenhouse which provides some wonderfully relaxing sounds and a lovely ambiance. And you’re sure to spot some fish and adorable turtles in the water. Beautiful historic statues have also been scattered throughout and placards explaining their symbolism and meaning are provided.

Toronto botanical gardens pond

And don’t think it’s just a collection of bushes and ferns! Although there certainly is some unique greenery from Canada and all over the world, there are also banana trees, rare, beautiful flowers of all shapes and sizes, a desert cacti room, and more!

There’s also a quaint children’s garden out back that houses a variety of vegetables and flowers. It’s all part of the Allan Gardens Children’s Conservatory which is a day-school program that helps teach kids about the environment and how to live greener lives.

There are a few benches scattered throughout so if you want to take a seat and soak it all in you’re more than welcome to. You just might want to bring a small towel or rag along as they can get wet from the plant watering. It is a very serene space and you’ll rarely find too many people trundling through which makes it great for thinking and relaxing.

Allan gardens conservatory
Exotic red flower

Getting There

Getting to Allan Gardens is exceptionally easy since it’s sandwiched between so many major streets. Your best bet by subway is to get off at College Station and take the College streetcar East along Carlton. You can hop off at either Jarvis or Sherbourne. There is also street parking available if you’re coming by car. If you use the BIXI bike program, there is a rack for them on the West side of the park. With so many convenient ways to get there, there truly is no excuse to not stop by while the weather is still so lovely!

All visual material has been provided by the amazing photographer Benson Kua and has been featured under the CC commons licensing. 

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