Edwards Gardens appeals to two very different types of people: people who want to come to a park to walk around or sit and enjoy the views, and people who want to learn something about plants and trees. That's because the location encompasses Edwards Gardens and the Toronto Botanical Garden, which is a volunteer-run garden that has the mandate to educate and inspire.
When I first enter the grounds from the bus stop at Leslie and Lawrence, I'm in Toronto Botanical Garden. The themed gardens greet me with labels describing what the purpose of each garden is, why plants have been grouped together, and smaller labels provide the plant names -- all part of filling this mandate. They even provide a map of the gardens online as a PDF.
TBG entry gardens are splashes of color and contrasting greens and textures. I love the ideas that come to mind for how some of these combinations can be implemented in my own gardens. I fall in love with the peonies, which are truly splendid. The alliums are spectacular, like fireworks explosions of pale lavender colors.
A tall sculpture looks over all of it. Swoopy sections with bud-like ends, spider web forms at junctures of stems. All executed in shiny steel. It Came From Outer Space.
The terrace garden amazes me. On the vertical side, the construction materials are still showing in some spots. Rounded stones are in one section, and the surprise for me is the use of wine bottles in another layer. Lots of Hens & Chicks type succulent plants.
The opposite side is a more gentle slope, and supports more types of plants.
The knot garden (top photo) makes me think of the formal gardens behind the Petti Palace in Florence with its perfectly manicured shrubbery forming perfect swirls.
Each year, TBG chooses a different country and creates a kitchen garden. This year it's Italy. No picking, please! So I just admire. Wander through and see what's growing, and wish I had more sunshine at home.
Loblaw's display garden has some interesting choices, and the Sawara False Cypress (I'm glad for the labels) is one I really want for home. It's so golden it's shocking.
Edwards Gardens, which I enter just after the last of TBG's display gardens, offers beautiful vista after vista. Mature trees offer shade, different shapes and textures, and plenty of opportunities to admire them.
Wilket Creek runs through the park - actually, it connects up to the Wilket Creek Park at one end. Cyclists are asked not to bike through Edwards Gardens: at the edge are some bike circles to lock up to.
Paths through the wooded areas break open here and there to afford a look down at the creek, or over towards the lawns.
Chipmunks are all around. The signs say not to feed the wildlife: it's a good thing I forgot to bring sunflower seed, which I had intended, because I find the chipmunks so adorable. They're not quite fearless, but do follow people around, so some people must be feeding them.
Among the evergreens are rhododendrons and they're in full bloom right now, as is the hydrangea and dogwood.
Beautiful insects also abound: I saw butterflies and this, which I had to photograph to find out what it is. It's a black-winged damsel fly, and a number of them were flitting around here and there on the shaded paths.
In the summer time, lots of families come here to the spacious lawns, spread blankets, and have picnics. It's very social.
There's a snack bar that serves some light sandwiches, sweets, and soft drinks. I have a ginger ale at a table in the shade. Other people had the same idea, because only one table is empty.
One last fast tour around, and I stop to take a picture up through the ginkgo biloba tree, because of the shape and color of the leaves of this ancient species.
I enjoy both of the gardens: I like TBG for what it teaches me, and I like Edwards Gardens for the walks, stops, and changing views. How about you?
How to get there:
TTC: from Eglinton subway station on the Yonge line, take the 54A Lawrence East bus.
Bike: J22 sector (PDF)
Car: Drive to Leslie and Lawrence. Parking is provided on site.