|Toronto skyline from Music Garden|
Toronto. Described as a world within a city. It is vibrant, diverse, friendly and interconnected with its various neighborhoods and culture. It has been more than thirty years since I've been to Toronto and it is a very different place from my memories. Last time I visited I was a college student coming over from Michigan to explore the restaurant and music scene. It was a hop, skip and a jump away and you could pass through the border simply with a photo id and a few answered questions. No passport required. It hardly felt like traveling to another country. Fast forward thirty years and it is a much different world. Passport, homeland security and customs are mandatory.
|street scene along Toronto waterfront|
Walking through the streets of Toronto you can feel, smell and taste the diversity of this cosmopolitan city. Multiple languages being spoken at every turn. Bakeries and flower shops on street corners reminiscent of a European town. Lots of bicyclists commuting on the city streets and riding for pleasure along the shoreline. Neighborhoods with their Victorian and Edwardian style homes add loads of character to the city where ravines and parks are a very distinctive feature of the cityscape.
|The variety of dogs reflects the variety of Toronto dwellers|
Tall glass buildings shape the skyline with 44 structures measuring over 150 meters high and the CN Tower, known as the largest free standing structure on land until 2007, towering over them all. Cranes are intermingled amongst the buildings, an indication that North America's fourth largest city continues to expand.
|view of Toronto skyline from Wards Island|
I had the privilege of touring this incredible city with fellow garden bloggers last week. And, let me tell you there is nothing better than discovering the life of a city than with like minded gardeners who are as passionate about plants as you are.
|Garden Bloggers descend upon Toronto|
Thanks to an outstanding team of local Toronto bloggers who arranged for us to explore the city from high on the rooftops to the bustling streets below. The four days were packed with garden tours from quaint, private gardens to large estates, botanical gardens, rooftop gardens, educational gardens, nature preserves, wildlife gardens and parks. You get the picture, we saw lots of gardens. But there is more. We also had buzztinis at the Farimont Royal York, an evening blog discussion with Gayla Trail from You Grow Girl, a container garden demonstration with the energetic Paul Zammit at the Toronto Botanical Garden followed by hors d'oeuvres, live music and dinner. It was fabulous. And did I tell you I tasted poutine? It is delicious and went right to my hips.
|view of Toronto from Hugh Garner Coop rooftop garden|
This was the groups first international fling. Seventy Bloggers from the United States, Canada and England descended upon the city to learn what the Toronto area has to offer when it comes to gardening. But, the fling is as much about the people as it is about the gardens. I meet fellow bloggers in person, who I have known virtually for years. Others I got to know for the first time. This is an eclectic group of passionate gardeners, from professional landscapers and designers to garden hobbyists, horticultural experts, authors and tree connoisseurs. It was such a treat to look at the gardens through the eyes of other enthusiasts.
|Garden photographers go to great lengths to get the perfect shot|
While Toronto may have a much shorter growing season than I do in Georgia, it is very apparent that Toronto gardeners are enthusiastic about plants, landscape design, color, garden art, container gardening and supporting their local ecosystems. They have some of the most lush gardens I've seen in a long while packed with a fantastical selection of plants with bloom combinations I would never see here in the South.
|Allium flowers were the signature plant of the fling|
The non-stop touring of more than thirty gardens in four days as well as the fellowship of these bloggers/gardeners left me feeling inspired, rejuvenated, tired (but in a good way), schooled, and enthusiastic. Thanks to the remarkable team for putting on such a fabulous event. A shout out to the bus drivers and entertaining bus captains and very generous sponsors. A big hug to my fellow garden bloggers for such a welcoming experience. And a very special thanks to all those who shared their stunning gardens with us.
|One of our special garden tour guides|
To read more about the fling you can visit the official fling blog here.