Burnett: Toronto conservatory a botanical gem

Don Burnett visited the Allen Gardens Conservatory, founded in 1858 and featuring 1,600 square feet of greenhouse space

The Allen Gardens Conservatory in Toronto.

The Allen Gardens Conservatory in Toronto.

Life is good my dear readers. I just returned from a wonderful week in the beautiful City of Toronto with one of my oldest and dearest friends Gerry Deshayes (we met 52 years ago,) to visit an even older mutual friend, Bill Campbell.

I could write a whole article, probably several on this one week of touring the city, imbibing in a few liquid refreshments, taking a road trip to Niagara Falls, visiting with Bill’s family and to top it off sitting in with him at the famous Brampton ‘Up Yer Kilt’ bar.

After all Bill, Gerry (Jim Wilson, Dan Fervorn) and I played together in the Strange Movies Blues Band in the 1960’s so there was a whole lotta love goin’ on.

However, this is a gardening column so I will quickly switch to one of the other highlights and that is a visit to the Allen Gardens Conservatory about a block from where we stayed in downtown Toronto. Founded in 1858 this park and conservatory is steeped in history and consists of five greenhouses covering 1,600 square feet.

The large central house is tropical while the four wings attached vary from a cool temperate house to a succulent collection. Everything was neat and tidy and the place was very much like it was over a century ago. What a treat.

There was obviously lots of natural biological processes going on as I observed a great balance of predacious insects with only a few bad guys left over to generate more nutriment for the good.

I know this beautiful place must have a hefty annual budget, but guess what? It was free with only a donation box collecting funds. Kudos to the City of Toronto for supporting this wonderful botanical conservatoire.

Finally, after all these years of living without one, my plan is to build a greenhouse in my back yard.

After all my good friend Charlie Faulkner once said so eloquently “a Burnett without a greenhouse is like a shot gun without a duck!”

Just in time for me to brush up on my propagation skills and garden planning aptitudes the Kelowna Garden Club is hosting the first Seed to Harvest Vegetable Growing for Novice to Green Thumb event Saturday Feb. 11 2017 at Okanagan College, Kelowna Campus, in the student services building.

They have a great lineup of presenters including Gabe Cipes, Certified Organic gardener at Summerhill Winer, Kathryn McCourt, founder of Penticton Urban Agriculture Association, Maxine Boulding Certified Horticulturalist, and Toni Boot, certified Square Foot instructor and former owner Grasslands Nursery.

Doors Open 8:30 a.m. with the first speaker at 9:30 and closing remarks at 3:45 p.m.. All this is free of charge so I invite you all to attend if growing your own food is important to you. For more information check website www.kelownagardenclub.ca.

Another reminder there are still a few seats left on the bus to join me and my buddy Ken Salvail on our annual trip to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show Feb 23 to 26. To get in on this fabulous trip to North America’s second largest flower and garden show call Sun Fun Tours (250) 763-6133.

Listen to Don Burnett and Ken Salvail every Saturday Morning from 8  to 10 a.m. presenting the Garden Show on AM 1150 now in its 34th year.


Kelowna Capital News