I didn’t have too many plans or expectations for the day. I heard about a botanical garden, Allan Gardens Conservatory, a block away from my hotel that I wanted to check out. Normally, I would never consider going to a garden. I had thought that something like that wouldn’t hold my interest for long. However, the botanical garden had a poinsettia exhibit and was free to the public. It seemed like a festive, Winter activity to top off our weekend. I figured if even we were in and out of the garden in 5 minutes, it wouldn’t be a big deal since it was free.

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Allan Gardens Conservatory was set back from all the other buildings around it. There was plenty of grass and a park in front of it. The second we walked into the garden we were hit by humidity. My camera fogged up and I had to quickly strip my heavy Winter coat off. The garden was beautiful. There were ponds and small bridges throughout. I didn’t even feel like I was inside. With all the plants, you barely noticed the glass ceilings. It was so hot in the first room, I didn’t think that I would be able to stay that long. Once we left the first room, the temperature seemed to cool down. The plants in that room must be used to a humid climate.

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I wasn’t expecting there to be that many poinsettias. They were everywhere. Each had subtle differences of various shades and details. I found myself trying to count all of the different varieties of poinsettias. The Christmas flower show consisted of thousands of flowers and over thirty varieties of poinsettias. The poinsettias were in the first two rooms of the gardens. All the walkways were lined with these festive flowers.

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The Winter theme continued in the floral design elsewhere. There were snow capped mountains, ice skaters and a snowman all sculpted from flowers. It was a very matriculates floral design, every petal was arranged perfectly. There were so many different flowers, it was hard to keep them strait. If you wanted to know more about a particular flower, there were plaques with the name of each flower. The workers were also all very knowledgeable and willing to answer any questions you may have about the gardens.

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The garden was so serene. You could listen to the trickle of water while relaxing on one of the many benches throughout the garden. The ponds were full of coy and baby turtles. It was such a relaxing environment. Allan garden was full of other flowers besides poinsettias. There were succulents, irises and even an entire room of cactus. It was a nice relaxing place to spend our afternoon.

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When it was time to check out of our hotel, we typed in the directions for Casa Loma in our phone and headed in that direction. Even though we had directions, we still managed to get lost. When we asked for directions, it seemed that we were only a few blocks away. Casa Loma was very impressive. Once you get close to it, you can’t miss it. It is named for House on a Hill, and this Gothic revival style mansion did in fact loom above the city in plain sight. In all the times I have been to Toronto, I never knew Casa Loma was here. We didn’t pay to go inside so we could only view the castle from the side and the back. Even though it wasn’t the view from the front, it was still a beautiful view.

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There was a small park between Casa Loma and a carriage house. The park had a view of the Toronto skyline , slightly obstructed by trees and power lines. When we left, we walked through the narrow streets between the servant quarter turned houses. We got a view of the Casa Loma stables beyond the servant quarters. These are not the types of stables I’m accustomed to. They were just as grand as the main house. The next time I’m in Toronto, I hope to have more time to see inside the mansion. For now, it was time for me to leave Toronto and take the short drive back over the border to the USA.

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