Once upon a time, for two years actually, there was an enormous hole in the ground right in front of Toronto General Hospital at Elizabeth and Gerrard. This giant crater was originally created to install two new 90,000-liter diesel fuel storage tanks to serve four emergency generator rooms at Toronto General Hospital. This is really important to keep the lights on and patients cared for in the event of a blackout.

Figure 1: The before (left) and after (right) pictures of new Toronto General Hospital Garden.

Instead of turning it into a giant slab of concrete, Facilities, with a little encouragement from Megan Porter, worked to create a gorgeous green space for our patients, staff and visitors (along with some of our lovely wildlife – bees, birds and butterflies) to enjoy.

The vision for reinstating the area was twofold:

  1. create useable space where patients, visitors and staff could unwind from the many stresses that happen when visiting and working in the hospital,
  2. use sustainable evergreens and perennial pollinator-friendly plants to improve the natural environment.

This was no easy task, but John Lloyd, Landscape Architect, was able to capture the vision and make it into a reality. John created a design that re-purposed the existing large concrete slab, maintained access to the fuel tanks, and  planted a blend of beautiful perennials, herbs and pollinator favourites that will bloom and change throughout the seasons to attracts all walks of life, such as bees, birds and butterflies (how cool is that?)! John’s design helps promote a healthy ecosystem and healthy patient, staff and visitors.

Stewart Dankner, Director of Facilities, noted that “While designing this space, we made sure that everything located in the garden was locally sourced and sustainable.”. This applies to the more than 400 perennials planted as well as the furnishings, choice of stone for new retaining wall, and new fencing. The benches, sourced from Maglin Furniture in Woodstock, Ontario, are made from 100% recycled composite paper! Who knew all the uses of recycling?

Speaking of recycling, the waste receptacles are also local and the most functional waste receptacles at UHN with simple pictures of what goes into each. Lisa is very excited to share this news with anyone that is willing to listen, but I mean who can blame her 🙂 ?  These waste bins are absolutely stunning and so modern; don’t they just make you want to recycle properly?

Figure 2: The new and super functional waste receptacles at the Toronto General Hospital garden.

One of the most unique parts about the garden are the planters, which on first glance might seem normal. These planters came from a company based out of Winnipeg called Barkman Concrete. The planters were custom-made on casters to provide accessibility into the manholes for the fuel tanks underneath the ground. Not only do they protect the access points, they fix what would have been four nasty tripping hazards! (just in case you forgot looking at the wonderful after-pictures, this is actually just a giant fueling station).

Figure 3: Another view of the Toronto General Garden after a successful staff BBQ!

All of these features will continue to make this garden a little piece of paradise at Toronto General Hospital. A huge thank you to everyone, including Megan Porter, Stewart Dankner, Adam Pressick, Vera Kan, Lisa Vanlint, the Ground Guys, who have worked hard to maintain the garden, OJ Muller Landscaping, ProWeld, Landsource Organix, and John and Mitchell Lloyd. Your work helps UHN be the best it can be and we cannot wait to watch the garden grow over the coming years.