“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot,” Joni Mitchell famously lamented in 1970.
The Canadian folk singer would be pleased to know that a depressing Queen East parking lot has been transformed into a neighbourhood garden centre.
Queen Garden Centre has sprung up in Riverside, a locally owned green outlet from landscape designer and horticultralist Mairtin Walsh of Queen Landscapes.
"Our goal is to have lots of structural plants and a good selection of colourful perennials similar to the ones we commonly use in our designs," says manager Tyler Welwood. "Of course, we'll have the go-to annuals that people love and we are working to bring in a selection of organic herbs so people don't have to worry about harmful chemicals."
Now open at Queen and Saulter under Riverside's massive pollinator mural — a tribute to the plight of bees painted by local artist Nick Sweetman — the shop is an advocate for sustainable gardening practices for a healthy environment.
"We're concerned about growers who use neonicotinoids in their process, which is harmful to bees," Welwood says. "We're very conscientious about this problem and want to promote merchandise that doesn't contribute to the dwindling bee population. The amazing mural on the site highlights this problem and brings awareness to this issue. We're naturally going to maintain the mural and think it fits our focus perfectly."
The idea for the garden centre has been several years in the making as the owners have searched for a suitable site to bring their idea to life.
"This business represents a big step for our family and business — we're excited to be a part of the community and to bring our vision in landscape design to the retail level."