Green Roof Revisited at Toronto City Hall

city hall photo

All Images by B. Alter

The roof garden at Toronto's City Hall had formerly been an abandoned and desolate space around a podium. The building itself was architecturally acclaimed when it was built 45 years ago but the podium area never quite worked. It has now been turned into a magnificent public garden for city hall and local employees to enjoy.

TreeHugger Lloyd was at the opening in May and now we have revisited it to see how the 35,000 sq.ft. garden has grown and developed with all the sun and rain of the last few months. The answer, in a word, stupendous. An oasis in the downtown area that reflects the clean modern lines of the building itself.

pink city photo

The garden is low-lying; composed of 65 species: mainly sedum, grasses waving in the wind, and perennials. It is a mix of sun and shade perennials, mainly regional, none exotic.

The planting is very linear and complements the building. It was designed by PLANT Architects. This is not an english country garden; this is an orderly and contemporary place; but never forbidding.

It is intended to vary from season to season, through to November. The plants range from all kinds of tall and short sedum, pink coneflowers, in full bloom, and many different grasses.

The garden is divided into different areas. The front part features a circular tree planter with three Kentucky Coffee trees and aromatic shrubs. This provides shade and seating for the terrace that serves as a public gathering area.

field west photo

The garden at the side and rear is planted as a field in purple, pink, yellow/orange and green sedums. It is huge and stunning: there are swaths of colour: blues and purples, with long grasses interwoven between the rows. Catmint, chives and other herbs provide a wonderful smell as you walk around.

hall city photo

There are modern, minimalist benches throughout the garden. They are designed to have a roof over the top to shade people sitting on them, although not much shade is provided.

The walkways are made out of crushed calcite stones which reflect the light and look clean and light.

Sitting on the bench in the midst of wonderful and secluded place, you feel welcome, happy, above the crowds and at peace with the world for a brief moment.

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