The top 10 garden centres in Toronto
Garden centres in Toronto are a gardener's best friend. Every great urban gardener will tell you that sourcing your plants and gardening supplies from a quality garden centre is key to your planting success. So what makes a good garden centre? A few key ingredients are imperative; a large selection of plants and/or other gardening essentials, helpful and knowledgeable staff, and a well-organized store, so even novice gardeners can find what they're looking for. With these criteria in mind, I scored the city in search of the best spots to get your garden on.
Check out my list of the top 10 garden centres in Toronto (in no particular order).
Bill's Garden Centre
903 Pape Avenue, 416.466.8283
Bill's Garden Centre has been a Danforth area staple since 1981. Don't be deceived by the smallish exterior. Once inside, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the large space and selection. The store carries plants, accessories, tools and raw materials like soils, fertilizers and plant care products. Bill's also offers a range of organic products and other nifty items like bird baths, trellises, benches and bird houses. Although a bit on the pricier side, the quality at Bill's is unbeatable.
East End Garden Centre
1395 Queen Street East, 416.469.4925
East End Garden Centre is a full service garden centre that literally bursts onto the sidewalk with an array of seasonal plants and accessories. In addition to annuals, perennials, plants, trees, shrubs and every type of gardening gear you could possibly think of, East End Garden Centre also carries hardware, electrical and plumbing supplies and offers landscaping services. Ask to visit the back lot for a seemingly endless supply of soil, mulch, wood chips and gravel. While parking may be a bit of an issue, staff will happily help you load your car, while you flip on your four-ways and hope not to be caught by the parking ticket vultures.
East of Eliza
1960 Gerrard Street East, 416.691.8038
A traditional florist shop with a hidden secret garden centre, East of Eliza is perfect for finding that pretty little something for a special event or a permanent fixture in your garden oasis. Owner Reed Russell is known for her earthy and whimsical approach to planter boxes and floral arrangements. She also offers landscaping services, and has been a Beaches (or the Beach) area favourite since 1988.
200 Christie Street, 416.537.1244
Fiesta Farms offers grocery shopping and gardening all in one place. What could be better? Although most known as a great independent grocery store, that carries a variety of local and cultural foods from around the world, Fiesta Farms also boasts an awesome garden centre, which is open seasonally from April 1st to June 30th. A large selection of organic herbs can be purchased in the garden center to compliment whatever yummy delicacies suit your fancy in the grocery section.
4000 Eglinton Avenue West, 416.241.9174
If you live in the west end and are in need of a gardening fix, Plant World is the place to be. With 5 acres of retail space, and year round greenhouses, this store truly has everything your green thumb is itching for. Plant World's location has remained a hub for the gardening crowd since its inception way back in 1889. The name was changed to Plant World in 1972 and has stuck since. The staff members at Plant World are knowledgeable and happy to offer free gardening tips to everyone, regardless of the colour of your thumbs.
1000 Islington Aveneue, 416.503.3339
Islington Nurseries offers a well-rounded selection of seasonal plants and gardening accessories. The store includes 2500 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, and online shopping is also available through their web-site. They are well-known for carrying a range of mature trees at reasonable prices. Or, if you want to literally "rock" your garden, head to Islington Nurseries' stone yard at 270 Evans Avenue for a large selection of landscaping materials and supplies.
Lee Valley Tools
590 King Street West, 416.366.5959 and two other locations
What good gardener is complete without a high-quality set of tools? Lee Valley Tools has three locations around the city that provide every possible gardening tool imaginable. From axes, hoes and rakes to trowels, mowers and shears; you name it, they have it. Lee Valley Tools has been family owned and operated since 1978. They have their own manufacturing division which makes the Veritas Tools line of merchandise for their store. They also carry 5000 different tools from other world-wide brands. Lee Valley also specializes in wood working tools and offers workshops for both wood working and gardening, like "Fundamentals of the Table Saw" and "Prune your Shrubs, Vines and Perennials". In-store seminars are hugely popular and sell-out quickly. Seminars are updated on their web-site, so if you are keen to attend, register early.
Veranda Home and Garden
2493 Yonge Street, 416.481.9998
Every great garden paradise needs appropriate furnishings to feel complete. Veranda Home and Garden, in the Young/Eglinton area, is a sweet little shop that boasts a wide variety of garden furniture and accessories. Veranda has turned the interior designer outdoors and gone wild. There's a variety of items to spice up an outdoor space, like fountains, outdoor rugs, and hand carved plaques. Garden décor consultations are also available and Veranda carries a range of unique and antique items. Indoor gifts, furnishings and accessories can also be found at the store.
Woodhill Garden Centre
320 Steeles Avenue East, 905.889.2917
In operation since 1976, Woodhill Garden Centre provides a variety of garden needs and services. The prices at Woodhill are generally a little cheaper than the average garden store and there is a wide selection of annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs and vines available. Woodhill also carries specialty products, tools and accessories. If your thumb is feeling a little less than green, they offer landscaping design and consulting services, or will make floral and planter arrangements for you.
1604 Queen Street West, 416.504.1653
For sustainable urban gardening that gives a nod to our "roots", Urban Harvest can't be beat. This seasonal store operates online when it's not gardening season. They carry a variety of heirloom, organic and non-genetically modified seeds and plants that you won't find in most other garden centers. Owner, Colette Murphy is committed to introducing people to the forgotten flavours of fruits, vegetables and herbs that have fallen out of favour with larger companies because they don't fit their narrow criteria. Urban Harvest takes the responsibility of urban gardening for food very seriously. Check out their website to read the "safe-seed pledge" which commits to not knowingly buying or selling genetically engineered seeds of plants. Urban Harvest products can also been found at farmer's markets around the city including, Dufferin Grove and Wynchwood Barns.
BONUS GARDEN CENTRE!
Grow It All Inc.
165 Geary Ave, 416.588.9595
For something a little different in the gardening sphere how about some hydroponics? Hydroponics is more than just the stuff your stoner cousin grew in his basement when you were a teenager (and if he's at all like mine, likely still does). Using nutrient rich solutions to replace soil allows plants to be grown in a variety of inert mediums, like gravel or stone-indoors or out. And Grow it All Inc. are the local experts in this process. As their name suggests, they will help you "grow it all" using hydroponic methods. They carry a wide range of starter kits and can help you grow tomatoes, peppers, herbs, flowers and mushrooms in a variety of unique and visually interesting arrangements. Visit their showroom to browse the large selection of seeds, plants, lights, grow systems and fans. While there, speak to the friendly staff, who will be happy to help you begin your hydroponic journey.
Writing by Julie Palmer