Gardens & Urban Agriculture

Hillside Gardens in High Park

Hillside Gardens

This well-known and extensive collection of gardens lies in the centre of High Park and is made up of a number of distinct areas. Each garden area has its own style and features. The gardens were developed over time, with some major structural elements created in the 1950s and others added in the 1970s. The gardens have been modified over time to blend in with the parks natural surroundings and create a dynamic blend of cultivated and more natural plantings.   

Hanging baskets

The Hillside Gardens are worth visiting in any season. In spring, they dazzle with tulips and daffodils in the formal gardens, lupins and scilla in the more naturalized areas and magical cherry blossoms along the hillside path. In summer, they offer a sensational array of colourful annuals (plants that grow, flower and die in the same season), more subtle but equally beautiful perennials (plants that live for at least two years) and unexpected blooms for visitors who explore beyond the main paths. Heading into fall, you’ll find long and late bloomers such as impatiens, dahlias and a wide array of asters, together with chrysanthemums, kale and other fall plants. In winter, the landscape is beautifully transformed by the shape, texture, colour and foliage of weeping birches, mulberry trees and evergreens.

The gardens extend from the Grenadier Café toward Grenadier Pond to the west, and to the naturalized area near the High Park Children's Garden to the south.

See our High Park Map.

The Plateau
is southwest of the Grenadier Café and features annual flower beds. These beds are planted for colour, variety and impact, often blending 'standard' annuals such as impatiens and zinnias, with exotic foliage such as coleus, crotons and colocasia. Annual gardens are most exciting in summer, however some plants bloom well into the fall. As the weather cools down, mums and kale are added, giving these beds a whole new look.

The Rock Gardens
are just southwest of the Plateau. This large rockery was built in the 1950's and extends down the hillside toward the shores of Grenadier Pond. It’s a special spot with several waterfalls and small bridges that highlight the beauty of the plantings.

Cherry Tree Hill lies along a pathway leading down to Grenadier Pond. In 1959, the Japanese ambassador to Canada presented 2,000 Sakura trees to Toronto. Since that time, more trees have been planted, providing a magical display of spectacular spring blooms. Each year, thousands of people visit High Park to take part in the century old Japanese tradition of Sakura Hanami, or “cherry blossom flower viewing”, in late April/early May.

The Sunken Garden lies south of the Plateau. It was built in the 1970's and features manicured hedges, contemplative paths and water fountains. This is a classic example of Italianate design, bringing to mind an elegant Renaissance Palazzo. Hanging planters provide visual interest and colour, with plenty of seating available for those who want to sit and take in the atmosphere.

The Perennial Gardens are just south of the manicured lawns that surround the Parks offices, which also feature some newly expanded gardens. Perennials are plants that live for at least two years. This garden is a well-kept menagerie of many different plants such as rudebeckia, russian sage and sedums.

The Maple Leaf Garden is a High Park landmark that was created in the 1950's. Planted in the shape of a giant maple leaf, this unique garden is best viewed from the top of the hill. Walk right into the maple leaf circle to get a closer look at the plant material, which varies based on the season, but can include blooming flowers and ivy.