I had the great pleasure to experience a guided tour through the Allan Gardens Conservatory with my Pax Christi friends Emily and Jennifer.
Our hosts Virginia, and Curtis the Foreperson of Plant Production, led us through this peaceful, indoor oasis. Right now Toronto’s “crystal palace” boasts a spectacular display of poinsettias and Christmas garlands.
The soaring glass dome built in 1910 replaced the original garden pavilion built in the 19th century which was destroyed by fire. Filled with a permanent collection of tropical plants, the slightly humid atmosphere is a balm for dry lungs ravaged by dry and over heated public buildings. Bursts of unexpected colour and texture are a gift to the senses bestowed by these silent leafy climbers and creepers.
I can’t help but think this is the perfect place to visit in the cold, grey winter, and a lovely spot to bring children to find lots of surprises – an unassuming toy train chugging through the foliage – turtles and fish swimming amongst the lily pads.
After our tour we went for lunch at The Blake House just up the street, a charming pub in a wonderfully restored Victorian mansion, built in 1897. The atmosphere by the fireplace was just the way to top off a morning of discovery in Toronto’s historic downtown.
I highly recommend a visit to take in this wonderful botanical and architectural gem. Allan Gardens is open 365 days a year. At Carlton and Jarvis, it’s easily accessed by TTC, and well worth the visit.
And yes, this venue is available for events!