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Allan Gardens Conservatory

January 20, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

My first winter in Toronto my pal Alexis suggested visiting Allan Gardens. What a perfect place to find a bit of reprieve from the ice, snow, slush and winds we've grown to expect this time of year. Located just a few moments away from Ryerson campus, and less than a 10 minute walk from the Yonge-University subway line and Toronto's Gay Village it's easy to get to and it's FREE! That's right! Lush, green, warm, and free! Comes complete with entertaining squirrels, the odd bird, water fountains and a tiny train!

I highly recommend visiting! I'll be back, especially to escape winter weather. 

This indoor botanical garden features six greenhouses:

  • Two Tropical Houses feature a wide variety of interesting plants including orchids, bromeliads, begonia and gesneriads
  • The Cool Temperate House features Camellias, Jasmine and plants from Australia and the Mediterranean
  • The Palm House dome shelters a thriving collection of varied palms, bananas and tropical vines with drifts of brilliantly coloured seasonal plants
  • The Tropical Landscape House offers lush exotics such as cycads, gingers, hibiscus and a green jade vine
  • The Arid House is home to a large display of unusual cacti and succulents including collections of agave, opuntia, haworthia and aloe

History (from www.toronto.ca) 

The Conservatory dates back to 1858 when prominent local politician George Allan offered the Toronto Horticultural Society a five-acre parcel of land to develop a garden.  In 1864, the City of Toronto purchased the surrounding lands from Mr Allan, which was then released to the Horticultural Society on the condition that the grounds be publicly accessible and free of charge.

In 1879 the Society opened a new Horticultural Pavilion which was in constant demand for promenade concerts, gala balls, conventions and flower shows.  In 1894 the City replaced the old conservatory with a more spacious one, but a disastrous fire on June 6, 1902, destroyed the Horticultural Pavilion and parts of the new conservatory. City architect Robert McCallum designed its replacement, the classically proportioned domed Palm House which opened in 1910 and stands on the site today. The Conservatory grew to almost 13 acres in size and added two new display greenhouses in the 1920’s.  In 1957, it constructed additional greenhouse wings to expand conservatory display space and reconstructed the adjacent garden areas.

The latest addition to the site is the Children’s Conservatory, which opened in 2004. The University of Toronto Botany Department donated the historic greenhouse (built in 1932), moved it from its original location and attached to the existing conservatory at Allan Gardens.  The Children’s Conservatory is closed to the public but offers horticultural programs for children.


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