WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? A festive splash of colours at Allan Gardens + great café and cool gift shop a 10-min walk away.
The greenhouses at Allan Gardens change their layout four times a year, and for this holiday season, red and coral join greens to create the perfect oasis from urban blah.
Still open during the dome renovations!
Don't be fooled by the white canvases covering the grand Victorian dome at the heart of the greenhouses. Allan Gardens can still be visited during the renovations from either side, via two different entrances.
The entrance to the orchid greenhouses (the one with the turtles by the water wheel) is on the west side of the site, not far from the playground.
In the portico, you'll notice a window allowing you to peek into the greenhouse, beautifully framed by fir branches. I highly recommend asking your companions to enter and greet you from inside, for a nice holiday photo.
At the end of the first room, doors lead us to the greenhouse where the beautiful pond awaits graced by the statue of Leda and the swan. At the end of the main greenhouse, you'll have to turn back to exit the building. (Due to the current renovations, the access to the dome is blocked.)
To continue the visit, walk around the greenhouses to reach the entrance to the cactus greenhouse, on the north side of Allan Gardens. The wide variety of cacti is always a nice surprise and the room opens into a second tropical greenhouse. Be sure to look up to see the arch of yellow flowers.
The elephant in... Allan Gardens Park
You'll probably notice some tents erected on the east side of the site. Tent cities are a sad urban phenomenon found in many parts of town, enhanced by Toronto’s housing crisis.
I've just learned about the Allan Gardens Food Bank, which operates Thursdays and Fridays from 12:30 pm to 3 pm in Saint Luke's United Church. If you scroll to the bottom of their site, you'll find the DONATE link to contribute to this vital food bank.
4 good things to know while you're around Allan Gardens
A pop-up gift store opens at Allan Gardens on Saturdays and Sundays from December 2 to 17, 2023, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The French choir Les Voix du coeur offers a free Christmas show on Saturday, December 9 at 2:30 p.m. at Paroisse du Sacré-Coeur (the church at 381 Sherbourne St., across from Allan Gardens)! Donations collected at the door will go to a fundraising to support francophone seniors most in need during the holiday season and throughout the year.
Allan Gardens' greenhouses are a 10-minute walk from the excellent café Bisou (formerly Le Conciliabule Lab, at 350 rue Berkeley), which we wrote about a year ago in a previous article.
The greenhouses are also a 10-minute walk from the excellent Labour of Love gift store (223 Carlton Street). This week, I spotted several original puzzles, bird bingo and beautiful wooden toys.
This post is a complement to local author Nathalie Prézeau's walking guide: Toronto BEST Urban Strolls. (currently SOLD OUT!) You already own this book? Check Nathalie's WEEKLY WALKS calendar available on her site www.torontourbangems.com/calendar. It's free, easily printable by season, and it includes page references which should help you enjoy urban walks year-round.
Visit www.torontourbangems.com to subscribe to Nathalie's coming newsletter and follow the author on social media to find out what latest urban gems she's found for you and to keep posted on her next guide.