Cloud Gardens: A Sanctuary in the Heart of Toronto

Cloud Gardens by Patrick B
Cloud Gardens by Patrick B

If you aren't looking for it, you will walk right past it! The "Bay Adelaide Gardens and the Cloud Forest Conservatory" – or Cloud Gardens – is a small park in the heart of downtown Toronto. Located on Richmond Street just east of Bay Street, this elaborate park sits on only half an acre of land and yet, is an attraction all Torontonians should visit! In the midst of a vibrant, busy, and sometimes overwhelming city, Cloud Gardens provides a wonderful haven.

The park developed as a result of a deal struck during the development of the Bay Adelaide Centre. The city allowed the Centre to build higher than the official plan limits. In exchange, the developers gave a small portion of the lot to the city, and spent $5 million to build a park.

Waterfall in Cloud Gardens by Asha Gupta
Waterfall in Cloud Gardens
by Asha Gupta

In spite of its 'small size', the park is one of the more elaborate in Toronto. This modern park features a network of pathways, which is lined with trees around a semi-circular lawn. The eastern part of the park has several walkways which climb past a waterfall. The gorgeous waterfall, which masks the sounds of the city, is five stories, and pours 1800 gallons of water a minute! The waterfall then cascades into a lower waterfall, and a series of pools designed to operate year-round. The design of Cloud Gardens is actually a winning entry of a design competition – a testament to its creative interweaving of terraces, ramps, stairs, bridges and more.

One of the most interesting parts of Cloud Garden is a small greenhouse, which is set to cool and moist conditions of certain mountain ecosystems. The conservatory hosts tropical cloud forests, which naturally occur in high elevations in tropical mountainous regions. The idea behind the greenhouse is to provide a year-round garden, with tree ferns, palms, and exotic plants, which directly contrast to the woodland garden (which contains native oak, maple, ash and hemlock trees), also located on the property. No matter where you stand, Cloud Gardens offers a gorgeous green view – a perspective that is very unique in concrete Toronto.

Cloud Gardens Front by Neal Jennings
Cloud Gardens Front
by Neal Jennings

Cloud Gardens is a particularly unique place –not only in its design, but also its location.To me, this small but beautiful garden serves as a minder to Torontonians about how important it is to (literally) stop and smell the flowers. Its strategic location aims to remindthose caught in the hustle and bustle of Toronto's fast-paced business life about the joys outside of Toronto. In the heart of the concrete downtown core, Cloud Gardens offers tranquility and the opportunity to commune with nature that every person in Toronto should experience.

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