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We are introducing a brand new series of Photo Essays! Have a look at amazing Photo Sets all shot by local photographers. Explore the vibe of the city, its hidden treasures, meet the Torontonians! This time, let’s have a look at Toronto through the lens of Roland Shainidze!
A Green Oasis in Toronto’s Heart
Toronto is a city graced with many beautiful parks, and Allan Gardens is one of the oldest, founded in 1858. Not only are the grounds a perfect destination for a relaxing stroll in the fresh air, but they are also home to one of the city’s major tourist attractions, the Allan Gardens Conservatory. Do you want to know a bit more about the history of this plant conservatory full of exotic species from all over the world?
The five-acre parcel of land was generously donated to the city in 1858 by George Allan, a prominent politician, under the condition that the grounds be publicly accessible and free of charge. The stunning Victorian-style flower conservatory consists of six greenhouses (with an area of more than 16,000 square feet) bearing Allan’s name, built in the middle of the park and boasting an unbelievable collection of rare and exotic plants from banana trees and orchids all the way to succulents and cacti from the North American deserts. Allan Gardens is open for visitors all year round, and it always attracts crowds of visitors during its seasonal flower shows. The Spring Show, held in February, transforms the Cool House into a celebration of everyone’s favourite season after a long, cold winter — springing to life with colourful tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and crocuses. The highlight of each year is the Christmas Show, during which the whole conservatory is decorated with seasonal topiary, and the grand opening show includes attractions such as horse carriages, carollers,and hot apple cider.
The gorgeous Palm House was built by architect Robert McCallum in 1910, and it features a cast-iron and glass dome that is filled with palms, bananas, and tropical vines. Glittering in the sun, it resembles a fine-cut gem set in the gardens’ green grounds. The Palm House was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act to help protect this special Toronto building. The Arid House is home to a large display of unusual cacti and succulents, including collections of agave, opuntia, and aloe. When you’re fed up with the freezing temperatures of Canadian winters, come and visit the Tropical Houses, which boast a warm and humid environment through the seasons to provide perfect conditions for plants from warm regions such as Australia and the Mediterranean.
The conservatory’s latest addition, the Children’s Conservatory, is closed to the public but offers horticultural programs for children. Allan Gardens’ beauty charms everyone who visits, and guests enjoy the unusual combination of plants and flowers from all over the world that are just a couple of steps away — all under one roof. The surrounding park is full of visitors during the winter and is also home to the city’s largest flock of pigeons. The east side features a life-sized statue of Scottish poet Robert Burns. Open May through October, you will find a cozy garden cafe overlooking the park where you can grab a coffee or a sweet treat.
We all wish that the spring would come to Toronto very soon. But until then, you can warm up here, surrounded by the vivid green of the conservatory! Another great place to visit when the spring is in full bloom is the Riverdale Farm in Cabbagetown!
Location: 19 Horticultural Avenue
Contact: (416) 392-7288
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Meet The Photographer
Roland Shainidze is an amateur photographer in Toronto. He is a graduate student in humanities at York University and his photography is focused primarily on architecture, both interiors and exteriors. He has taken photographs in Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City and Ottawa as well as his native Georgia. Roland uses HDR tools to transform the presentation of the imagery of architectural elements. Self-taught, he takes every opportunity to take pictures and experiment with them; playing with lines, patterns, light and selective colour.