Toronto's known for the wealth of gardens and green spaces that grace our fair city, and everyone has their big fancy favourite like High Park or Trinity-Bellwoods, but how about shedding a little light on some of the lesser-known green spaces around the GTA? Curbed Toronto asked for your nominations for the best out-of-the-way parks, and you came through. Have a look at our map; would you add any spots?Read More
A City Within a Park; Uncovering Toronto's Secret Green Spaces
Cloud Gardens sits on the block that runs east of Bay Street, between Temperance and Richmond. It's got several discrete themed areas, and terraces that are laid out over several storeys. A pretty cool place, and one that not a lot of people seem to use.
Craigleigh Gardens Park
In the heart of South Rosedale, Craigleigh Gardens was originally the site of the estate of Edmund Boyd Osler, a 19th-century Toronto businessman. After Osler's death in 1924, the land was donated to the city for use as a public park. Enter off South Drive, through the old stone-and-iron gate.
Courtyard at Knox College, U of T
Like a lot of spots on the UofT campus (Robarts not included), this sedate spot has a classic Ivy-League/Oxbridge feel to it. Flake out on the quad or in the shade of the gallery.
You could live in Leslieville for years and never know about tiny Hideaway Park, tucked in between two north-south alleys just south of Dundas Street near Pape Avenue. Neighbours are fiercely protective of and keep a watchful eye out for littering and other antisocial behaviour, but it's a friendly place with a kids' playground, a small off-leash doggy area, and water fountains.
Courtyard, St. George the Martyr
Toronto Music Garden
How many cities can boast a park designed by Yo-Yo Ma? The cellist designed The Music Garden (along with landscape designer Julie Messervy) as an interpretation of a Bach cello suite, and each section of the garden corresponds to a movement in the composition. Warning: listening to Lady Gaga while hanging out here may cause existential conflict.
Toronto Sculpture Garden
The Sculpture Garden is found behind a wrought-iron fence on King Street just east of Church Street, beside the venerable French restaurant La Maquette. Only one large sculptural work is ever on display at a time; past works have included a life-sized flying saucer, a gigantic baby head, and a 20-foot-high stack of Honda Civics.
Diversity Garden, Toronto City Hall
Tucked in behind City Hall, the Diversity Garden features large elevated planters and pots, lots of benches, and paths of wood chips to give your feet a break from pounding Queen Street.
Evergreen Brick Works
Nestled down in a ravine, the Brick Works is not only a combination interpretation centre/farmer's market/event space, it also has an amazing network of hiking paths that wind through the valley and along Mud Creek. Pause on the footbridge and check out the mammoth koi and turtles (mostly dumped there by inconsiderate former owners, but nice to look at anyway). There's a free shuttle bus that runs down to the site (and back!) from Broadview station.
Rosetta McClain Gardens
Rosetta McClain Gardens is right at the edge of the Scarborough Bluffs, just west of Bluffer's Park. It's a patchwork of garden spaces and beds, a pergola and a folly. A bit of a stretch to get to, but worth the effort.
The 1854 house and its grounds were donated by the Ashbridge family for use as a public park. The Estate is on Queen Street East, just across from the Connaught streetcar yard. There are some really old trees (willow, birch, locust, horse chestnut) and lots of flower beds to wander through, sniffing deeply.
Brueckner Rhododendron Garden
Like rhodos? This is the place for you. Eighteen acres of rhododendrons, with walking trails.
Spadina House Museum
This former private home in Forest Hill Village was converted to a museum in 1984. The Victorian-style gardens are divided into sections - a kitchen garden, a cutting garden, and formal flower beds. Free, as long as you don't go into the house.
Fort York Community Garden
A great community gardening space with vegetables, herbs and flowers, including an historical kitchen garden.
This space is hidden behind the Canada Malting silos, just east of Billy Bishop Airport. The park is dedicated to the Irish who immigrated to Canada during Ireland's potato famine, and has a number of elements that call back to that history; a monument wall of Irish limestone, an illuminated tower of glass, and five striking sculptures of arriving immigrants.Ireland Park has been closed to the public for four years due to construction, but will reopen this month.
A few readers nominated Scarborough's well-forested Milliken Park, which has lots of trails, a pond, and a renaturalization program where volunteers meet to plant native species.
Sherbourne Common was created as part of the Waterfront revitalization in anticipation of the Pan Am Games. It's got a fantastic splash pad with vertical water jets, and lots of green space to stretch out and read or picnic.