Sunday, August 13, 2017

Visiting Ontario, Canada--Plants of Toronto

In 2017, Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary. I took a tour of Toronto with Road Scholar link

Toronto is not only the city with the largest population in Canada (2.7 million people), but it is the 4th largest city in North America, after Mexico City, New York, and Los Angeles. Greater Toronto has 7 million people. It sits along the north edge of Lake Ontario, so for Canada it is in the far south. Lake effects from the Great Lakes keep Toronto's climate mild, moist and unpredictable.


For me it is always a botanic tour, so here is a brief look at Toronto's plants.

Of course there are plantless landscapes

Toronto scene


but I also saw many parks.

Queen's Park, Toronto
Queen's Park, Toronto
The park above is Queen's Park in the center of the city. It had excellent signs drawing attention to the plants, for example the one below identifies the trees of the urban forest and comments on changes in trees planted at different times

Queen's Park urban forest sign

Both public and private property had  bright flower beds

Toronto flower bed

daylilies, Toronto

The tour highlighted colorful neighborhoods. The Garden Car in Kensington Market is an institution--and a statement about cities, cars and plants. link

car full of plants, Toronto

Here, in the same area, a dumpster has been turned into a garden--note the weeds that have been pulled out but not yet disposed of. Again, nontraditional greening of a city.

dumpster as garden

Allan Garden is a large green space with a large (16,000 square foot) well-maintained conservatory filled with tropical plants. More than 100 years old, it is open--just walk in!-- every day.

Conservatory, Allan's Park, Toronto
A view of the Allan Gardens Conservatory
I visited in July. Doors stood open and black squirrels hid among the ferns inside the building. It was hot under the glass. In Toronto's snowy winter, it must be a terrific refuge.

orchids, Conservatory, Allan's Park, Toronto
Orchids and ferns in the Conservatory
Allan Gardens had diverse plantings around the Conservatory. The one I liked best was a bed of native plants

native plants Allan's Park, Toronto
Ontario natives, Allan Gardens
This brought home that there are gorgeous plants native to southern Ontario and that the street plantings in Toronto, although lovely, could include many more regional natives.

Ontario has beautiful native trees as well. They are uncommon or absent from the native forests of Colorado, so I was delighted to see them. Since I grew up in central New York State where the plants are similar, they are favorites of mine.

Here are paper birch (Betula papyrifera)

white birch, Toronto

eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

hemlock, Toronto

and American linden (Tilia americana)

American linden, Toronto

to name three lovely natives of eastern North American forests.

Of course not all native trees can survive in a big city and conversely some are not good city trees because they warp sidewalks, fling branches in a windstorm or grow too big. But as a botanical tourist, these eastern trees and the little forest patches within easy reach of Toronto were a delight.

 I greatly enjoyed the whimsey of fantastic animals on this lawn

beast under the tree

Here's the "dreadful" field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) climbing a fence and making art

field bindweed flowers, Toronto

The tour featured Toronto history and government--and yes, I enjoyed those--but the plants were really cool too.

Comments and corrections welcome

Kathy Keeler, A Wandering Botanist
Join me on Facebook:

You might also like these previous blog posts:

The Dreadful Field Bindweed link           Plant Confusion--Hemlock, Both Umbels and Conifers link 
western hemlock
field bindweed

Visiting Sweden--A Wandering Botanist in Stockholm link


No comments:

Post a Comment