Thursday, April 30, 2015

Toronto Fling Itinerary – A first look

A view of Grenadier Pond is just one of the delights in our Swansea gardens.
While there's still a detail to iron out here and there, we're excited that we can now share the broad strokes of what you'll see and do at the Garden Bloggers Fling 2015 in Toronto. If you haven't signed up, and this whets your appetite, we still have a few places left. Email me!

Don't sweat the actual times yet – you'll get a detailed itinerary with your registration package.

OUR WELCOME EVENT (Thursday evening):

In case you've come late to the party and missed our post – Lee Valley Tools is hosting our welcome fest in a big way. You'll want to be there. Really, you will. Tip: Leave room in your suitcase and be ready to check your bag on your return flight.

DAY ONE (Friday):

Buses rotate between three west-end sites:

Luscious arrangement from My Luscious Backyard
The Parkdale garden of (and floral demo by) Sarah Nixon of My Luscious Backyard – a real "slow flowers" story. See a news feature about Sarah's business here.

A look at site restoration at Toronto's High Park, with info on invasive species, especially in Toronto's native oak savannah habitat. High Park is Toronto's Central Park or Hyde Park.

We'll explore two (possibly three) neighbouring gardens in the Swansea district. Some overlook High Park's Grenadier Pond.

Buses take us to the ferry docks

Box lunch to eat on the Toronto Island Ferry to Ward's Island

Toronto Island cottages

Note: On the Island side, we'll stop at the docks for our Toronto Fling photo op with a skyline background! Wear your best smiles.

Then, a preview of the Toronto Island Garden Tour, with as many as ten cottage gardens to tour at your own pace. We'll give you a map and set you free.

Friday dinner on your own. If you're on the Island, you might try the Rectory Café or the Island Café for dinner. Both are a short walk from the Ward's Island ferry docks. No return ticket required.

Friday evening – hold this space for bzzzzzznzzz we are arranging with Burt's Bees. Details TBD.

DAY TWO (Saturday):

Earlybirds can begin the day by walking with Helen to St. Lawrence Market, our historic downtown farmer's market, for breakfast. The Canadian back bacon on a bun is a fave, but there are more gourmet options. The Market opens at 5 am on Saturdays – we don't have to be quite as early as that!

Marion Jarvie's garden
Walk back to the hotel, so the buses can take us to Forest Hill, where we'll tour two very different gardens, a few blocks apart. Check that link for teaser pics.

Then we head north to visit the garden of Marion Jarvie for our own private tour. Marion is plantswoman and true collector, and her half-acre space is filled with unusual species and specimens. With one of Marion's four Open Gardens having happened the weekend prior, the garden should be in top form.

Yes, we'll feed you lunch; details in the works.

Parkwood Estate and (we hope) peonies!
Next, get out your Downton Abbey millinery! We head out of town to visit Oshawa's Parkwood Estate, the historic stately home of R.S. McLaughlin, one of the parents of General Motors. Parkwood is planning some special things for us, but details will be a surprise.

From here, we're crossing our fingers for fine weather, because our next stop, a few minutes away, is the peony garden at the Oshawa Botanical Garden, with (with luck) 300+ species of peony gloriously in bloom.

Ellen Carr's garden in June 2013

Our last stop of the day is the Bluffs-area garden of Ellen Carr, president of the city's largest, poshest garden club, the Garden Club of Toronto. Our picture gives you a wee peek, including a corner of the thyme lawn.

Back to Toronto for dinner on your own

Saturday evening – our bloggers' chat with You Grow Girl Gayla Trail. Check the link for info, with exact time and place to come.

Have we exhausted you yet? Get ready for Sunday!

DAY THREE (Sunday):

View of the skyline from the Hugh Garner Rooftop Garden
We begin in Cabbagetown, which I wrote about just yesterday. In addition to the gardens we've told you about, we're hoping we'll have time to visit the Hugh Garner Rooftop Garden while we're there. It's a special place.

Then we head to the Evergreen Brick Works, a heritage industrial space that has been transformed into a nature preserve and education centre – as well as an organic farmer's market. Sarah wrote about it a few years ago.

Box lunch at the Brick Works

Aga Khan Museum grounds
Our first stop of the afternoon will be the brand new Aga Khan Museum – which was quite a coup for Toronto when it opened just last fall. It's shown in our photo shortly after opening. We'll break into three groups, and circulate between 20-minute tours, including the dramatic grounds and a look at the striking contemporary architecture.

Then we all head to the lovely certified wildlife habitat garden of Siri Luckow, not far away.

Toronto Botanical Garden
We close our day – and the official Toronto Fling – at the Toronto Botanical Garden for garden tours, cocktails, dinner and more!

Buses bring you back to the Fairmont Royal York, well fed and well fêted. If you need to go to the airport directly from the TBG, please let Helen know asapASAP.

And stay tuned, soonish, for our optional Niagara day itinerary.

P.S. Sarah is organizing a small,  unofficial excursion to Wild Flower Farm on Tuesday, June 9th. Let her know on the Fling Facebook page if you're interested.


  1. Sorry I'll be missing this. Opening with tools, visiting Cabbagetown (love the name!), Toronto Botanical Garden -- darn!

  2. Looks wonderful! Thank you, Helen and Co. for all your hard work!

  3. I'm exhausted just reading about it, thank you for all your hard work Team Toronto!

  4. It all sounds wonderful, Helen! Awesome itinerary, Team Toronto! Can't wait.

  5. I am so disappointed to be missing the fling. Insert sad face here.

  6. Oh my! Each event you described was as exciting or better than the last. I can't wait!

  7. I can't wait!!! Looks awesome!

  8. Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee¡!!!!!!!!!¡

  9. How exciting! Thanks for all the hard work, Helen!

    1. We have a great Team Toronto -- credit also belongs to Lorraine Flanigan, Veronica Sliva and Sarah Battersby!

  10. Thank you all for putting this together! We are really looking forward to our time in Toronto!

  11. I cannot even conceive the work and planning that has gone into this. So excited to meet everyone and see Toronto through the eyes of true Canadians. – Louise


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