Your guide to the year in gardening

Spectacular gardens are featured in the Toronto Botanical Garden’s tour, Through the Garden Gate. Photo: Mary Fran McQuade

Our gardens are safely tucked away under a blanket of snow and mulch, so what’s happening in the gardening world? Right now, before seed, plant and soil orders grab all your attention, take a moment to mark your calendar with some of the gardening highlights of the coming year.

Orchid Show, February 13 and 14:

Organized by the Southern Ontario Orchid Society, held at Toronto Botanical Garden, 777 Lawrence Ave. E. at Leslie. Whether you’ve already caught orchid fever or not, this lavish display makes a colourful escape on a dull winter day. You’ll see flowers of every size, shape and colour, all at their very best. A sales area and scheduled talks are on site if you’re ready to add an orchid to your indoor garden.

Admission $12 cash only. A $2 off coupon and more info at

Get The Jump On Spring, February 20:

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Toronto Botanical Garden, TBG’s annual winter open house is a day-long plunge into all things gardening. Demos, presentations and displays by garden clubs and environmental organizations will expand your knowledge, while winter garden tours and an organic farmers’ market will satisfy other cravings. Take home gently used gardening books or vases for just a few dollars. Lunch and snacks are also available. Admission is free, but bring a toonie to donate to this wonderful resource in our city. Visit the TBG website.

Seedy Saturday, February 27:

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Toronto Botanical Garden. Get ready for spring sowing at this timely seed swap. Bring seeds from your own garden and go home with a collection of seeds from others. Information sessions, displays and a ticketed showing of the documentary Dirt, the Movie will also be available. Admission free (fee for the movie). See the TBG website.

Canada Blooms, March 11-20:

At the Enercare Centre (formerly the Direct Energy Centre) at Exhibition Place, Toronto’s yearly spring celebration of flowers and gardening shows off acres of designer gardens, together with more than 100 hours of seminars and demonstrations to choose from. Check out new plants and products, bring your questions to the master gardeners advice clinic and shop for plants and gardening gear. Admission $20 at the door, with discounts for kids and seniors. Save by buying in advance online and use promo code PARTY for further savings. See the Canada Blooms website for hours and ticket information.

Toronto Botanical Garden Plant Sale, May 13-15:

Top-quality and hard-to-find annuals, perennials, veggies, herbs, shrubs and small ornamental trees are laid out in an indoor shopper’s paradise. TBG staff and volunteers provide expert advice, too. New this year is a selection of previously-loved garden tools. Become a member and get first pick at the members-only preview sale May 12, noon to 8 p.m. Free admission, cash or credit cards accepted for purchase. See the website for hours and more info.

Beach Garden Society Plant Sale, May 21:

9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Adam Beck Community Centre, 79 Lawlor Ave. Arrive early for this popular sale organized by our own local garden club. Browse tables full of specially-selected perennials and popular succulents, as well as bargain-priced plants from members’ own gardens. Lots of BGS members will be on site to answer your questions and help you make your choices.

Through the Garden Gate garden tour, June 11-12:

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, the 29th annual garden tour organized by TBG focuses on The Kingsway. Visitors can see more than 20 gorgeous private gardens at their own pace, using the souvenir guidebook that includes a map and descriptions of all gardens. A free shuttle bus along the route saves steps and eliminates parking hassles. Tickets are $45 for one day or $60 for two days, with discounts for members and students. Check the TBG website for details.

Beach Garden Society Garden Tour, June 18:

This always-popular event lets you behind the fences to view some of the most beautiful gardens in our neighbourhood. It’s held on Father’s Day Sunday, so it makes a great family outing, together with a picnic in the park or a visit to a local restaurant. Details aren’t finalized yet, but the tour generally includes 10 or more local gardens, a stop for refreshments and a map with garden descriptions. Tickets will be available in advance at local retailers and will likely cost somewhere between $10-$15. Check Beach Metro News for more info closer to the date.


Mary Fran McQuade is a local writer specializing in gardening and lifestyle

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