Allan Gardens (founded in 1858) is one of the oldest parks in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It has a conservatory (greenhouse), a playground and two fenced off-leash areas for dogs. It is operated by Toronto Parks who also run Centennial Park Conservatory. It is open every day of the year and is free.
Rare tropical plants from all over the globe are nurtured inside five greenhouses covering 16,000 square feet. The southern “Tropical House” has a waterwheel and tropical plants like orchids and bromeliads. The “Cool House” has a waterfall, Kashmirian Cypress, small pond and citrus trees. The central Palm House houses tall bananas, bamboo and a huge Screw Pine. Another tropical house has many kinds of hibiscus, datura and a cycad. The Cactus House has a wide variety of cacti and succulents.
During the Victorian Christmas Show, the conservatory is decorated and filled with thousands of flowering plants and over 40 different varieties of Poinsettias. The opening on the first Sunday in December features Christmas carollers, horse and wagon rides, hot apple cider and freshly baked cookies. The show runs until the end of December and the conservatory is opened late on weekends and can be viewed by candlelight.
In February, the Cool House begins the transition from winter to spring by showcasing a wide array of spring flowering bulbs like hyacinths, crocus and pushkinias and colourful cool crops like cineraria and primula. For Easter, the dome is filled with blue and pink hydrangeas and Easter lilies.
On the first weekend in November, the Fall Show features over 75 varieties of Chrysanthemums.
In 1879, the Pavilion Hall was built. It included a glass conservatory and was also used for concerts and social events. Oscar Wilde gave a lecture here in May 1882. The Hall burned down in 1902. It was replaced by the existing Victorian style conservatory known as the Palm House in 1910. This was designed by former City Architect Robert McCallum. Toronto Architects Mathers and Haldenby, Lord and Burnham Company, and Nexus Architects were also involved. The Cool House was added in 1924 and the northern Tropical House in 1956. The Arid (Cactus) House and the southern, double-width Tropical House were moved from Exhibition Park in the 1950s. The University of Toronto greenhouse (1931) was relocated to Allan Gardens, connected to the Arid House and is now used as a children's conservatory. It was previously a greenhouse for the Department of Botany at the University of Toronto's St. George Campus.
The building design emphasizes the use of repetition, symmetry and contrast. Steel supports. such as framing and trusses. and translucent glazing are used throughout. Symmetry is evident when viewing the building on the ground plane, towards the main entrance of the Palm House. Two main entrances are situated on the south and the north side of the main façade with alike ornamentation above the entry doors. The same materials are used for both entrances with a repetitive pattern of wood-framed glazing in the space between the doors.
Symmetry is also evident when the conservatory is viewed from above in the similar geometrical shapes of the north/south greenhouses and the diagonal paths on the site directed from the two intersections on Sherbourne St. The garden's prominent feature of contrast is clear when observing the materials used on the building's exterior and in the interior. Stone tile cladding and light coloured wood are used on the main façade of the Palm House. Another example of contrasting materials can be seen in the tropical greenhouse, where the same wall was constructed with tree logs on one side and stucco on the other.
The garden and the main part of the property were donated to the Toronto Horticultural Society by George William Allan, President of the Society, one-time Mayor of Toronto and long-time Senator in 1857. The park was known as the 'Botanical Gardens' and the 'Horticultural Gardens'. It was opened by the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, on September 11, 1860. The Park was renamed "Allan Gardens" when George Allan died in 1901.
The trees in the park represent the northern tip of the Carolinian forest with species such as black cherry, American beech, red oak, sugar maple and sassafras. Most are over one hundred years old and a 2008 inventory showed 309 trees in the park. The park is home to three varieties of squirrel, the gray, the black, and, unique to this park, the red tailed black squirrel. The park is also home to the city's largest flock of pigeons, a roving peregrine falcon and a statue of Robert Burns.
Allan Gardens is bounded by Jarvis Street on the West, Sherbourne Street on the East, Carlton Street on the North and Gerrard Street East on the South in Toronto's Garden District.Several episodes of Kenny vs. Spenny featured the park.
The conservatory and the park feature in several scenes in The Stubborn Season, a novel set in the 1930s by Lauren B. Davis.
Atom Egoyan's 2010 film Chloe features a scene shot inside the conservatory.
Several scenes from the 1968 television film adaption of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were filmed in the conservatory.
The music video for 'Shelter' by Bedouin Soundclash was shot inside the conservatory.
A season 4 episode of Flashpoint was filmed at the gardens
The benches outside of the botanical gardens were used as a location for the scavenger hunt promoting Linkin Park's 2012 album Living Things
Bruce McDonald's 2010 film Trigger includes a scene in the conservatory.
Murdoch Mysteries episode "Rich Boy, Poor Boy" features the park.