Urban Jungle

Urban Jungle

The spring flower show at the Allan Gardens Conservatory

Aurora Carnevale  CONTRIBUTOR

Photo: Aurora Carnevale / THE MIKE.


Need a little something to restore your winter-crushed spirits? Look no further than the annual spring flower show at the Allan Gardens Conservatory, on now until April 29. 

The Allan Gardens Conservatory gives you a feeling of spring once you walk through the door. I visited on a Friday afternoon and stayed for an hour and a half, and I never waited longer than a couple of minutes to see any of the features or to get a clear, un-peopled photo of a waterfall. Many of the visitors also had their cameras out to take pictures of the vibrant and unfamiliar flowers, and more than a few times, strangers made remarks to one another about the scenery. There’s something about being enclosed within such a beautiful space that allows people to open themselves up to making conversation, no matter how much the stress from work, school, or life may loom over their heads. 

The juxtaposition of the luscious foliage and the steel beams of the greenhouses reflects Toronto’s urban areas. If you forget where you are and feel like you have been transported to the jungle, all you need to do is look to the skylight and you’ll be reminded. Should you visit in these final weeks of the season, the greenhouses are a warm retreat from winter’s cold. 

The Conservatory is made up of six interconnected greenhouses. Each room is dedicated to rare and unusual greenery from different parts of the world. The Palm House is home to palm, bamboo, and banana trees and even a wrought-iron loveseat (perfect for Instagram). The Palm House was built in 1910 to replace the original structure, the Horticultural Pavilion, which was built in 1879 and burned down in 1902. The University of Toronto’s (U of T’s) Department of Botany donated a greenhouse (built in 1932) to the Conservatory, and in 2004 it opened as a children’s conservatory.  

There are three tropical greenhouses. One of them features a waterwheel, orchids, and a pond home to over 20 turtles, while another tropical greenhouse has a waterfall and a koi pond, as well as striking flowers and greenery. The famous Jade Vine is located in the Tropical Landscape House. The Arid House harbours many different cacti and succulents. The sixth greenhouse smells overwhelmingly (but not unpleasantly) of Jasmine, and has a variety of Australian and Mediterranean plants. 

The Conservatory is free to visit and open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Located at 19 Horticultural Ave., just south of Carlton St., between Jarvis and Sherbourne, it is easily accessible via transit. The greenhouses are wheelchair accessible, and there are washrooms inside the Palm House. During this stressful, cold time of year, it provides some welcome stress relief and escapism.