It’s a farmers’ market, a music festival, a beekeeper’s mecca and a kids’ camp — but most of all, the Toronto Botanical Garden is a city-sized garden blossoming with ideas and inspiration for anyone who wants to get down and dirty, and up close and horticultural.
Located adjacent to Edwards Gardens, one of the city’s most popular parks, the Toronto Botanical Garden boasts 17 themed gardens, including an Entry Garden Walk designed by renowned Dutch garden designer, Piet Oudolf.
Brimming with design ideas and plants suited to urban growing conditions, these gardens also make an attractive venue for a variety of activities. The TBG’s adult horticultural education program is highly regarded, with instructors drawn from the ranks of its staff as well as Master Gardeners and knowledgeable regional experts. Complementing the educational program is a lecture series that showcases world-class speakers, making the TBG a hub for cutting-edge gardening know-how.
Kids are a big part of the programming at the TBG, too. March break and summer camps have been the core of the children’s education program, and innovative series are always being developed, including the newest City Critters Family Series, which introduces kids to urban wildlife, from raptors and coyotes to bees and butterflies.
When I visited in early June, the place was a-buzz. Director of Education Liz Hood greeted me and fellow Master Gardener Nicole Leaper with a bee-keeping suit, complete with veiled hood, honey- and wax-smeared gloves and a thick canvas jacket. We were ready to meet the bees that live in the three hives that stand in the pollinator garden just outside the Weston Family Library. After calming the bees by lightly smoking them with a puff of smoldering aspen chips dampered with comfrey leaves, Hood introduced us to the apis community living in the “Pollen Nation” hive. (The other two hives are called “Leaning Tower of Beeeza” and “The Sweet Spot”.) We learned about the hierarchy of jobs the bees perform to keep the queen happily repopulating the colony. Afterward, we tasted different kinds of honey, including some harvested from the TBG’s hives (a mild citrus-tasting honey was my favourite).
As we left the building, we stepped into a world of music and the bustle of a farmers’ market where we sampled a healthful honey cocktail, warming chai tea, samosas dipped in Eastern India-style chutneys and sauces, kelp chips, handmade artisanal cheeses and some oh-so-flaky baked goods.
What a fun way to discover just how much goes on at a botanical garden!