With summer just about within reach, it's hard to suppress excited thoughts about getting down and dirty — in a flower bed, that is — as primetime gardening season is upon us.
Whether you're a go-getter cultivating a backyard oasis or all thumbs when it comes to being green, check the east end's many independent garden markets and nurseries and embrace nature in your own abode.
EAST END GARDEN CENTRE
A Leslieville institution going strong for over 35 years, the scene at East End Garden Centre is a no-holds-barred feeding frenzy each spring. As such, the stock spills out onto the sidewalk in front of the shop and for half a block in either direction. Prices and selection are solid, especially for perennials and baskets, and this shop carries just about everything you need to create a lush sanctuary. The store also carries hardware, electrical and plumbing supplies and offers landscaping services along with soil, mulch, wood chips and gravel. The staff can be grumpy — even downright crusty at times (hey, the owner is in her 80s , give her a break) — but are very knowledgeable and as legendary as the store itself. It's all part of the experience.
1395 Queen St. E
EAST OF ELIZA
East of Eliza has developed a loyal following since first opening in 1988, and for good reason. Owner Reed Russell's shop is a planter's paradise with well-curated stock and a "woodsy, whimsical approach" to less-common flowers and plants. Tucked away from the traditional flower shop is a secret garden centre filled with show-stopping perennials and container-ready annuals plus hard-to-find plant species. Staff are knowledgeable and disarming to garden newcomers.
1960 Gerrard St. E
QUEEN GARDEN CENTRE
A relative newcomer to Toronto's gardening scene, Queen Garden Centre transformed a depressing Riverside parking into a hip neighbourhood hub for plants. They specialize in perennials, trees, and shrubs with over 500 varieties available for condos, houses and commercial settings. The garden centre promotes pesticide- and chemical-free plants and pest management, educating the public on declining bee populations. They also open over the holidays with seasonal stock including fresh-cut trees.
771 Queen St. E
Specializing in urban spaces, Beech Nursery is savvy to both today's gardening trends as well as tried and true classics. From plants and pottery to giftware and accessories, there’s everything you need to make your outdoor living space a work of art and keep you busy all summer.
4 Carlaw Ave.
JAY'S GARDEN CENTRE
Jay's Garden is an urban legend of the green variety that attracts all sorts of downtown dwellers looking to spruce things up. The Cabbagetown shop is family-run, and the friendly folks offer healthy plants at some of the best prices you'll find in Toronto.
360 Gerrard St. E
GREEN MOUNTAIN MARKET
UPDATE: Due to a fire, Green Mountain Market is currently closed for renovations.
This corner store at Upper Gerrard and Coxwell houses a small florist and garden centre that packs a punch considering its small size. Here you'll find a mix of annuals and perennials in all sorts of shapes and colours, plus blooming baskets and planted containers. It might be all you need to find your garden's piece de resistance.
350 Coxwell Ave.
Did we miss your favourite garden market? Let us know in the comments section below.