Feel like getting away from it all, without actually leaving the city? Make your way to serene Edwards Gardens in North York. Edwards Gardens sits adjacent to the Toronto Botanical Garden and offers both Toronto locals and visitors the chance to enjoy the great outdoors in a scenic setting. The former estate garden is the perfect place to relax or go for a leisurely walk among themed gardens, a rockery, wildflowers, water features and more. If you’re curious about visiting or just want to learn more, read on for everything you need to know about Edwards Gardens in Toronto.
Before it was a vast expanse of manicured public space, Edwards Gardens were the private estate of Alexander Milne. The land was eventually purchased by Rupert Edwards in 1944; he created a garden on the then-neglected piece of land. Edwards eventually sold the land to the City of Toronto in 1955 to become a public park, and it was named Edwards Gardens in 1956. Today, the 35-acre gardens are a popular spot in the city for anyone who wants to enjoy nature in a serene setting.
What to See & Do
People typically spend anywhere from one to three hours at Edwards Gardens, depending on the time of year and what they’re looking for – be it a short break or a long walk through the grounds.
The sprawling site is spread out over an upland area and a lower valley section. The gardens are home to perennials and roses on the upland area, and then feature vibrant wildflowers, rhododendrons and a large rockery in the valley. During a visit you’ll also find formal gardens, colorful floral displays, a greenhouse, wooden arch bridges (great for photos), a waterwheel, fountains, and many walking trails to choose from.
On the upper level of the valley you’ll find an arboretum as well as the Children's Teaching Garden (part of the Toronto Botanical Garden), perfect for if you’re visiting with kids in tow. The educational garden features plants with names that begin with the letters of the alphabet, a sensory garden where kids are encouraged to smell and touch the plants and the Dinosaur Garden with a model of a stegosaurus and a range of plants dinosaurs would have eaten.
During July and August, visitors can take advantage of the Edwards Gardens Summer Music Series, a free summer concert series that happens in the gardens, rain or shine. The concert area is located at the courtyard next to the historic barn in Edwards Gardens. Seating is limited, so it’s a good idea to bring your own chairs or a blanket to sit on.
Because Edwards Gardens encompasses The Toronto Botanic Garden (TBG), it makes sense, time permitting, to visit both. The TBG is home to 17 award-winning themed gardens spanning nearly four acres. In the summer, learn more about Edwards Gardens and the TBG with a free garden tour. The volunteer-led tours are 90 minutes long and happen at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and 6 p.m. on Thursdays, late May through September. In addition, stop by the TBG’s organic farmers’ market that runs year-round (outdoors in the summer, indoors in the colder months).
If you get hungry, there’s a café located in the TBG (open seasonally May to October) as well as a garden shop (open year-round)
Location & When to Visit
Edwards Gardens are located at 755 Lawrence Avenue East and easily accessible by public transit.
TTC buses pass the corner of Leslie Street and Lawrence Avenue regularly so you can take the Lawrence East 54 bus or the 54A bus to the gardens. Or, from the Yonge subway line, you can go to Eglington Station and take the 51, 54 or 162 bus to Lawrence Avenue. If you’re driving to the gardens, take Highway 401 to the Leslie Street exit (parking is free).
The gardens are open year-round from dawn until dusk, and admission is free of charge
What to Do Nearby
There are a few other worthwhile attractions in close proximity to Edwards Gardens. Consider the Aga Khan Museum, the Ontario Science Centre with interactive exhibits for kids of all ages, and CF Shops at Don Mills for some serious retail therapy.