Join us for the Members’ Tour of High Park Greenhouses on May 10!

Alan Gardens, Toronto. February 2014.


Upcoming Events

  • Members’ Tour of the High Park Greenhouses followed by tea & scones. May 10, 2014 10am - 12pm. To find out more and GET TICKETS, click here.
  • Elizabeth Stewart’s seed list from the February meeting can be downloaded here.
  • Sierra Club One Sweet Day Event at Sorauren Park 10:30am - 4PM. Click here to find out more.
  • Parkdale Toronto Hort Plant Fair will be held on May 31! Click here to find out more, or to download a poster click here.


Tour of High Park Greenhouses Followed by Tea & Scones

Saturday, May 10, 2014, Tour 10am to 12:00pm followed by tea & scones

Members of the Parkdale and Toronto Horticultural Society are being offered an exclusive opportunity to have a guided visit to the High Park Greenhouses which are normally closed to the public.  The tour guide, a member of the horticultural staff, will offer an inside look at the production greenhouses and the native plant nursery and talk about how the City organizes its public gardens.

At noon, after the tour we have arranged for tea and scones at the Grenadier Café in High Park.
Image credits: City of Toronto

Registration is $20 per person and the funds will help support our community gardens projects including the garden at Colborne Lodge.

Space is very limited, so sign up now.  Please send your cheques written to the Parkdale and Toronto Horticultural Societies to:  Diana Baxter, 306 Rushton Rd. Toronto, ON, M6C 2X7, and send an email to Diana at so your spot is held for you and she knows to expect your cheque. Please include your name,  email address and phone number so we can notify you of final arrangements. Registration closes April 29. You can also pay at the April meeting, but make sure you let Diana know you are interested with an email. First come first served!

If you would like to pay with a credit card please click here. You do not have to have a Paypal account. 


Marjorie Mason - Beautiful and Delicious Gardening

March 31, 2014 meeting - click here to find out about our meeting time and location.

There was a time when Mason House (formerly Mason Hogue) Gardens and Marjorie Mason were synonymous with decorative and ornamental gardens. Those times are past.  The demonstration garden and nursery is still home to flowers and foliage plants, specializing in unusual species, but about a decade ago, Marjorie Mason began focusing on a different kind of plant material—the edible kind. And in many ways, she’s come full circle—Mason was raised on a market garden farm. Marjory Mason. Image from

Mason spent many years concentrating on ornamental varieties of annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs, and seeking out “unique and hard to find plants” to stock her nursery. She became a sought after speaker and was so well known and respected that a hemerocallis cultivar was named after her. Some ten years ago, however, the Toronto Botanical Garden, one of the places where she often spoke, asked her to teach a course on the potager garden. She set about quickly learning about potagers and hasn’t turned back. In fact, Mason considers growing edibles her favourite thing. Her first potager was, and still exists, beside the shed at the nursery and was introduced to our Hort a few years back.

After rooting herself in edible gardening, she was sought out by the Royal York Hotel’s then Executive Chef, David Garcelon, to work with him on the hotel’s revolutionary rooftop kitchen garden. A proponent of vegetable gardening, Mason believes we need every spot we can, to grow edible plants. Today, she considers the turn in horticulture to edible gardening to be its “most current and important phase”. In fact, she believes that growing food is “something we have to do or we’re going to be in big, big trouble”.

Despite sounding more like an activist than a woman used to leading garden tours to the United Kingdom, Mason has a much more holistic sensibility about edible gardening. She explains that vegetables have a much more interesting and compelling history than flowers, a discovery she owes to a book given to her by her son called, How Carrots Won the Trojan War by Rebecca Rupp. Moreover, she suggests that a garden patch with a red cabbage paired with a savoy and dill “is just beautiful”!

This month Marjorie Mason will share her experiences gardening with edible plants that are beautiful for the eyes and the palate.

Maria Nuñes


Leaf Relief Cement Casting Workshop


Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

1914 roses at the opening ceremony of the Howard Gates.Come join the celebration commemorating the 100th Year Anniversary of the famous gates adorning the eastern entrance to High Park on Parkside Drive at High Park Boulevard.

Our very own Horticultural Societies of Parkdale and Toronto (initiated by the Outreach and Education committee) will be providing the beautiful bouquets of roses. These are to be as close as possible to the original bouquets presented in 1914. 

We will also be able to promote the Hort with flyers in the refreshment tent. 1914 Howard Gates opening ceremony.

The Tentative Schedule is :

  • 12:45 pm: The High Park Walking Tour Group will lead a historical tour, beginning at the south side of the Grenadier Restaurant and ending at the zoo parking lot at 1:45pm.
  • 2 pm: A parade will lead off the event starting at the Zoo parking lot on Deer Pen Road, and wind its way to the stage at the gates on Parkside, led by the 48th Highland Pipe Band. The Duke and Duchess of Connaught, Imperial Order of the Daughter of the Empire, (aka IODE) who contributed largely to the gates originally and also took on the original care of Colborne Lodge, City dignitaries and Scout troops will make up the roster of participants. The Lieutenant Governor and Mrs Onley have yet to be confirmed. 
  • 2:15 pm: Speeches will be made by various dignitaries and the Hort’s Roses presented to the ladies on stage.
  • 2:35 pm: O Canada will be sung and the parade will return to the parking lot.
  • 2:35-4 pm: Refreshments will be served in the tent at the foot of the Jamie Bell Playground. Sam Caragianakos of the Grenadier Restaurant will be providing hot food at 1914 prices and perhaps even retro Coke bottles.

Volunteers will be needed for :

  1. Posting neighbourhood flyers.
  2. Assisting with crowd control.
  3. Assisting with refreshment service after the event.
  4. Acting volunteer captains, who will receive training  Sat Mar.1@ 9:30am.

Please email if you are interested in volunteering for this very illustrious event. Thank you, hope to see lots of smiling Hort faces there.

Media coverage will help promote the event before and celebrate after.

To see an interesting article about the event click here.

- Terri Dixon (Education and Outreach Committee, Horticultural Societies of Parkdale & Toronto)


Howard Memorial Gates 100 Year Anniversary

You are invited! On Sunday March 23, 2014 a celebration will be held for the anniversary of the Howard Park Gates. Colborne Lodge staff are co-hosting the event with Ward 13 Parkdale-High Park Councillor Sarah Doucette.  The formal activities will be based on the March 19, 1914 opening.  At 2 p.m. a parade of dignitaries and groups representing those in attendance in 1914 will march along Deer Pen Road towards the stage set up in front of the Howard Memorial Gates.  After the stage ceremony, refreshments will be served in a tent in front of the Jamie Bell Adventure Playground.

A number of High Park-based groups, including; the High Park Nature Centre; the Children’s Garden and Training Kitchen; Park Watch; and the High Park Walking Tour Group are also providing programming prior to the event.  Community groups including the Horticultural Society of Toronto and Parkdale; local Scout troops; the Swansea and Runnymede Village Historical Societies; and High Park and Runnymede branches of the Toronto Public Library are involved in the event as well.

On March 19, 1914, the gates were opened to great fanfare.  Among the attendees were the Governor General, Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught and his wife, Princess Louise Margaret, the Duchess of Connaught; Mayor Horatio Clarence Hocken and his wife; Sir Henry M. Pellatt of Casa Loma; and a number of members of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire.  The Westminster Chapter of the I.O.D.E fundraised half of the $4,500 cost of building the gates and City Council provided the matching funds.

The March 20, 1914 editions of the The Mail and The World newspapers covered the event.  “High Park Boulevard, at the foot of which the gates stand, presented a gay appearance.  From every residence floated flags and streamers, while near the gates the Royal Standard was flying from a staff erected for the occasion.” “The Boy Scouts, headed by Highland pipers, were drawn up in line.  The Duke arrived shortly before 4 o’clock, and as he walked from this motor to the platform the 48th Highlanders’ Band struck up “God Save the King.”  “At the moment of unveiling the band struck up “Rule Britannia,” and afterward the Boy Scout Stanbury sang “O Canada”.


Howard Park Gates Celebration Volunteers Needed

Join our volunteer team for the 100th anniversary celebration of the Howard Memorial Gates at the Parkside Drive entrance to High Park.  The event is being held Sunday, March 23 and volunteers are needed to assist with serving food, welcoming and directing visitors; and safety along the parade route.  Various shifts throughout the day.

Volunteers under 14 years must be accompanied by an adult.  High school students can apply the hours to community service credit.

An orientation session will be held at Colborne Lodge on Sat, March 1 from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. For more information or to RSVP for the orientation, email or phone 416-392-6916 and ask for Cheryl or Philip.

The event is co-hosted by Colborne Lodge and Councillor Sarah Doucette along with a great team of High Park and community-based groups.

Colborne Lodge is located on Colborne Lodge Drive at the south end of High Park. 

Colbourne Lodge in Winter. Photo courtesy of City of Toronto.


Elizabeth Stewart - Urban Edibles

February 24, 2014 meeting - click here to find out about our meeting time and location.

Growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan, Elizabeth Stewart considered ‘gardening’ a hateful word, since it meant hours of dusty, backbreaking hoeing, weeding and harvesting the vegetable garden in the blazing sun. To her surprise, many years later in Toronto, she found herself living in a funky, rented Queen Street West studio in a renovated factory building—with a garden! More specifically, with a series of 80 feet of shady terraced beds rising steeply skyward from a basement walkout.

Over the next several years, she graduated from petunias to polyanthus and from an avowed non-gardener to an addict, with more books on gardening than the Toronto Reference Library (almost), several magazine subscriptions and eventually—frustratingly—not a single square centimetre of earth left unplanted. 

Since relocating to a tiny bungalow in the same neighbourhood, she has transformed her back yard into what she calls a ‘working farm’. The successor to that back-breaking Saskatchewan vegetable garden is a beautiful and bountiful urban mini-farm, which has been featured in Canadian Gardening magazine. She’s also become an active member of Toronto Master Gardeners, where she serves as Communications Coordinator and is a frequent speaker. Elizabeth will enlighten us about this transformation to urban edibles.

Here is a link to Elizabeth’s seed list.


Getting The Bugs Out - Gardening Without Pesticides


Botanical Artists of Canada Exhibition