Friday, August 5, 2011

Toronto and Beyond: Gardens

When I was in Toronto in July, Jarka, knowing that I love gardens and am studying Horticulture, managed to take me to a different garden just about every day. One day, we went to two different gardens.

Given the warm summer weather, this was a perfect activity for us.

In Toronto we visited the Toronto Botanical Garden and Edwards Gardens and the Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Edwards Gardens is a public park that is owned by the City of Toronto. It is open to the public and there is no charge for admission. The Botanical Garden shares the same area with an emphasis on gardening education and information. I'm not sure where one ends and the other begins, but, with its location right in Toronto, it was a perfect place for us to spend an hour or so. We enjoyed the themed gardens and took a walk through the park area.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery is a true cemetery in the heart of Toronto, but it is also a beautiful park, with trees, gardens, wildlife, and art, where people walk, jog, and ride their bikes.

Jarka and I had lunch with her friend Marie, whose condo overlooks the cemetery.

Looking down from her balcony, I was reminded of being in New York City, looking down on Central Park. Mount Pleasant is one of Canada's most historic cemeteries, dating back to 1876. It is the final resting place of many prominent Canadians.

After a delicious lunch of Chicken Paprikash and much more (Marie is an excellent cook),

we took a walk in the cemetery.

The Royal Botanical Gardens are about an hour and a half drive from Toronto in Burlington, Ontario. We spent a full day here, with Jarka's friend, Viena, and we didn't fully explore/visit all of the gardens.

But, what a beautiful place. At times I felt I had moved inside a Horticulture text book, but a text book with smell and touch. The main gardens are laid out by subject. And, the subject range from Culinary Herbs, to Monocots, to Mallow, to Cancer Curing plants. The gardens are extensive and beautiful. There are benches and resting places throughout. We brought a picnic lunch, as did many other visitors and we ate it on a bench in one of the gardens.

I have a "thing" for Hollyhocks. They don't seem to grow much in Northern California but they are flowers that I remember from the yard in the apartment house in Boston where I grew up. This year, I'm growing Hollyhocks from seed and right now my plants have about two leaves. I probably will not get flowers this year, but will hope they make it through the winter and start afresh early next Spring.

The Mallow section of the Royal Botanical Gardens had many large Hollyhock gardens and I was delighted with them.

Later in the afternoon we stopped for tea and scones at the Garden's Tea House.

There are lakes and wooded areas and even a lovely spot where a formal wedding was taking place. The Royal Botanical Gardens are special and worth the journey from Toronto, for those who enjoy gardens.