A peek through the garden gates

Through the Garden Gate, the annual tour of private gardens put on by the Toronto Botanical Garden, is set in a different neighbourhood each year. This year’s tour focuses on Forest Hill, one of the most prestigious neighbourhoods in the city, which means visitors will get an up-close look at some grand and decadent gardens.

Last week’s preview of the 19 gardens on the tour included some of the most lovely gardens I’ve ever seen, with special plants, intriguing art, dramatic containers, thoughtful design and a surprising amount of serenity, considering the surrounding hustle of the city. Here are some glimpses of what the tour offers. Although most would be considered luxurious gardens, there were plant combinations, design ideas and charming vignettes that would work for many spaces and budgets.

Through the Garden Gate takes place Saturday, June 8, and Sunday June 9, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The tour will have food trucks, ice cream stations and a complimentary shuttle bus for getting from garden to garden. You can order tickets and find out more information about the tour at the Toronto Botanical Garden’s website.

back garden with greenhouse
There were so many things I loved about this garden, from the picturesque greenhouse to the smartly designed garden shed in the back left corner. Wood slats put up over an existing shed created a polished and discreet storage area.
tucked away bench
A bench tucked into a corner of a garden is a pleasant surprise, even if you never sit still long enough to take full advantage of it. Benches like this become a part of the garden, fitting in with the paths and plants.
wisteria behind pool
The wisteria was almost done blooming in Toronto this week, but check out the twisted trunk on this one.
front garden gravel pathways
I always love a good gravel pathway, especially with this garden’s diverse collection of plants.
front garden with bars
One of the highlights of the tour is this lushly planted front garden. The bars protect it from dogs and pedestrians. Aside from being practical, the perfectly spaced rust-coloured bars create a beautiful contrast to the softness of the garden behind.
front garden with pink azalea
A hard-to-believe-it’s-real pink azalea is the star of this front garden. 
anna's red hellebore
There are many interesting plants to discover on the tour, including ‘Anna’s Red’ hellebore, with marbled foliage and red flowers. 
contemporary container
An incredible container gets prime placement in a garden with many intriguing pieces of art and furniture. Plants include burgundy-leaved Rex begonias, ‘Silver Falls’ dichondra and foxtail fern (Asparagus densiflorus ‘Myersii’).


  1. Bert says

    I love a good gravel pathway too but I cannot find a place where to buy the gravel for our path. We asked several landscapers and they seem to have a hard time with it.
    Do you have any suggestions?



    • Beckie Fox says

      Hello Bert: My suggestion would be to visit a nearby building-supply centre or yard—-a business that sells sand, rocks, concrete pavers, limestone screenings–those kinds of materials. Most of these businesses also carry gravel in several sizes and made from various stone. I don’t know where you reside, so I have no specific place to suggest. Beckie

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