A Winter Oasis: Allan Gardens

Orchids bloom like crazy this time of year, in a greenhouse.

Is winter taking a toll? Are you suffering from Winter-Weary Syndrome? Sick of the flash freezing and the slushy thawing? Fed up with black ice on the sidewalks, the wolf in sheep’s clothing that hides underneath a snowfall? This morning’s wake-up involved an impromptu version of the Watusi when my heel skidded on slick ice. Thankfully I stayed upright. (My power-walker sis tell me it’s safer walking on the road, rather than a residential sidewalk in freeze-after-a-thaw conditions. )

You don’t need to take a plane for a respite from winter. A trip to Toronto’s historic conservatory, Allan Gardens can mimic a south sea holiday, or at least make you feel like winter has been suspended for an afternoon.

Allan Gardens Conservatory

As soon as you walk through the door of this Victorian glass house you are hit with warm air and the smell of earth. Stone paths wind through 16,000 square feet of tropical plants and flowers. At the moment scented spring bulbs, azaleas and cyclamen are adding colour, and the orchid display is at a peak. Fountains and streams gurgle, and huge goldfish swim lazily in the ponds. A trip here on a grey day can soothe the most winter weary soul with the incredible variety of growing things. Kids love to throw pennies in the pond, watch the miniature water wheel go around, and stand on a bridge to watch the fish below.

One of my favourite rooms is the cactus and succulent house. The forms are amazingly varied, like living sculpture. This winter escape has the added benefit of being completely free. A trip here every couple of weeks is guaranteed to help you get through the winter’s tail-end.

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