Our volunteer-led garden is our small offering towards the restoration of pollinator habitats, inviting our neighbours and local community members to come together and get their hands dirty.
The Theatre Centre is proud to share the gardens with the community, continuing our investment in pollinator stewardship. Many of the plants are perennials in a variety of native species, selected to ensure continuous bloom from spring to fall.
the seed of an idea
The Theatre Centre’s first pollinator garden was created by volunteer and neighbour Randy Goldman. Randy is a longtime friend of The Theatre Centre and, with his green thumb and love of gardening, we’ve been so lucky to have his expertise. Before the pandemic, Randy could often be found on the TD Green Roof potting plants and teaching staff about how to care for them. In 2020 Randy had the brilliant idea to turn some of the space around the café windows into a beautiful garden for neighbours and pollinators to enjoy. In the video below you can meet Randy and hear more about what gardening and community space mean to him.
the plot thickens
When Randy planted the garden along the side of the building we couldn’t believe how quickly it grew in, and how much beauty it added to our community. We heard so many great things from artists, café patrons, and just folks passing by.
In 2023 we received funding from the City of Toronto through Live Green Toronto and the PollinateTO Grants Program to extend the garden along the entrance ramp right up to Queen Street. Randy led the initiative, choosing a variety of native plants that would make an excellent habitat for pollinators. With the generous help of an expanded team of volunteers, in only a few short days we planted xx number of plants and got to know some of our neighbours better.
But what are pollinators and pollinator habitats? Pollinator species include birds, butterflies, moths, insects, and most importantly bees! Almost 90% percent of wild plants are dependent on insect pollination, primarily through bees. They travel from each plant carrying pollen, transferring genetic material for the reproductive system of most flowering plants. A pollinator habitat provides various nectar producing flowers and shelter-providing plants.
Threats to Toronto’s pollinators include habitat loss, pesticides, invasive species, diseases/pests, extreme weather and climate change. Habitat loss is the greatest threat to pollinators and that’s where the creation of pollinator gardens comes in!
- Food – native flowering plants rich in pollen and nectar
- Places to lay their eggs – butterflies only lay their eggs on specific plants called larval host plants (eg. Monarchs and milkweed)
- Places to nest and overwinter – bare sandy soil, hollow stems, dead wood, leaf litter, etc
- A chemical-free environment
Thanks to Randy’s expertise, and the hard work of the volunteers, the pollinator garden provides a rich habitat for Toronto’s pollinators.
Read on for some fun facts about a few of our pollinating flower superstars:
An adaptable wildflower with tubular, bright-white flowers that bloom in the spring. In May and June these plants are a magnet for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
After its peak bloom between May to June, the Golden Alexander forms oval-shaped green fruit capsules which gradually turn purple as autumn approaches. All season long it provides excellent pollen and nectar source for many butterflies.
This flower is known as the Pearly everlasting for the pearl-white leaves that surround the yellow disk flowers that resemble rays. With its showy white and yellow bloom it is highly attractive for bees and butterflies.
This perennial edible wildflower is the Blue Vervain, and the leaves of the plant can be dried and brewed into teas. The flowers are showy, bloom between July and September, and are beneficial to pollinator species, like bees and butterflies. The seeds are also beneficial to wildlife species, like birds and small mammals.
This member of the buttercup family, the Canada Anemone is native to all of Canada’s provinces and territories, except the Yukon. This plant has long bloom times from May to June and provides beautiful greenery when not in bloom.
Goldenrod blooms in late summer into the fall with clusters of yellow flowers. Native goldenrods are exceptionally valuable for pollinators, providing nectar and pollen. The flowers are a favourite of Monarch butterflies as they fuel-up for their fall migration.
Blooming in the summer, the small hairs on the stamen (pollen producing part of a flower) of the Foxglobe Beardtongue make it look like a bearded tongue.
Learn more about pollinator gardens and how you can start your own:
The west-facing expansion to the pollinator garden is generously supported by Live Green and Pollinate TO.
Header: Pollinator Garden illustration by Kyle Purcell