Friday, August 7, 2015

Allan Gardens Conservatory

En route to the Cabbagetown Gardens (post coming up next week) the Garden Bloggers Fling bus drove right past this scrumptious eyeful…

There was an audible “sigh…” heard on the bus, what gardener doesn’t love a gorgeous greenhouse? Sadly making a stop was not in the cards.

Little did I know at the time, but we’d just passed the Allan Gardens Conservatory, a location I’d already identified as being within walking distance from the hotel and thus a planned destination on one of our extra days. Coincidently the Allan Gardens Conservatory was also the inspiration mentioned for the window display at Type Books, the one I wrote about here.

As we approached the conservatory we walked past an off-leash dog area, with art!

And a reminder I’d love to see posted around my own neighborhood.

Snapping a shot of section of the conservatory I didn’t notice that I’d also captured the CNN tower CN Tower (duh, thanks Nell).

Before we go inside a little background: “In 1858, 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 it then re-leased to the Horticultural Society on the condition that the grounds be publicly accessible and free of charge.” (source)

That’s right, free of charge and open 365 days a year!

“Despite the park's increasing popularity, debt forced the Society to sell its interest in the park and surrounding lands to the City in 1888. The City initiated a program of improvement and expansion. In 1894 it replaced the old conservatory with a more spacious 90’ x 61’ facility. In tribute to the accomplishments and memory of George Allan, it was renamed Allan Gardens shortly after his death in 1901…A disastrous fire on June 6, 1902 destroyed the Horticultural Pavilion and parts of the 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 1920’s saw two new display greenhouses added to the north and south ends of the Palm House.”

Today the facility consists of 16,000 sq ft and six greenhouses (2 tropical houses, a cool temperate house, the palm house, the tropical landscape house, and an arid house). It was impressive, as was the Curculigo capitulata (palm-grass)...

A Bismarckia nobilis, definitely a sign this is a quality conservatory.

Enough talk, let's walk...

Cassia didymobotrya, aka Popcorn Cassia - I grew this last summer and loved it.

Now we're entering the arid house. After being away from home for almost a week and only catching the slightest glimpses of a few "desert plants" this was sorely needed...

Synadenium compactum var. rubrum aka African Milk Bush, I'm growing this now - and I love it!

There were not only fabulous things planted at ground and knee level (raised planters) but a lot of interesting plants hanging from the structure above. This one is Rhipsalis baccifera...

Couldn't find a label on this one.

Or this, but it looks like a Cleistocactus winteri aka Golden Rattail Cactus.

If I lived in Toronto I'd spend many a cold winter day in here.

So beautiful!

And so sad that people need to do this (initials and such, carved)...

Odd, right? An injury and healing/regrowth? Or?

We've left the arid house and are retracing our steps and on to another part of the conservatory. I missed vine this the first time by, so glad I saw it now! Strongylodon macrobotrys aka Jade vine. According to the destruction of rainforests in the Philippines threatens this species in the wild.

So incredible...

I thought this was an interesting tree...

Until I got closer. Callistemon coccineus, do you think they did this for size (to keep it from hitting the roof) or because the new growth is desirable?

There were seas of Bromeliads...

And finally this.

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

What a place! I am so glad I got the chance to visit.

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. CN Tower, not CNN. But who's counting? ;>

    What a bromeliad fiesta! Thanks for another big batch of gorgeous photos.

    1. Ha, thanks for that catch. Change made.

  2. Absolutely stunning. I could have spent hours in there. I'm surprised this wasn't on the Fling tour! I wonder why?

    1. I know that some people feel a conservatory is more like a museum, not necessarily reflective of a local gardening style...maybe that's why?

  3. Beautiful place! Sad to see the grafitti'ed Agaves--must have been an American that did that. Canadians are nicer.

    Yeah, the crocs... :(

  4. What a cool place, so glad you managed to get over there on your extra day. I've seen clogs planted up in gardens where they fit in, but I don't really think they belong in such a classy conservatory. That Jade vine is like a living Chihuly sculpture. Who needs glass when Nature produces that?

    1. The Crocs wreaths were displayed in sort of a hidden fashion. Like they had to hang them up, but weren't entirely happy with it.

  5. What a gem to discover on the fling! Nice collection of plants and very well presented too, ok maybe not the crocs...

  6. I think it's a requirement that every conservatory/greenhouse contain at least one plant that would be pushing through the ceiling if drastic measures weren't taken.

    Some really great stuff here -- I especially like the jade vine, the second Golden Rattail Cactus photo, and the unknown just above the Golden Rattail Cactus image.

  7. What a lovely little greenhouse, even better to find you can walk to it. Jade vines are amazing aren't they.

    1. It wasn't so little really. Short yes, but it seemed to go on forever.

  8. Omg - restored my faith in horticulture :)
    Thanks for sharing!!!

  9. So glad you got to visit and share this cool place with us. I remember my first sighting of Strongylodon macrobotrys in an Oxford, England conservatory. Like you, I was just amazed at the flower!

    1. I'd seen photos before but seeing it right before me took the beauty to an entirely different level.

  10. Hah! Yet another demonstration that wandering off the grid yields the most interesting sights. Toronta is more interesting than we might have guessed.

  11. Beautiful conservatory! Oh that jade vine... Glad you got to add this to your itinerary!


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