Top Gardening Love Picks from the Toronto Botanical Garden

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, TBG’s staff and volunteers are sharing their most beloved plants, flowers, and books (as well as one cheeky song). Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, these garden-inspired selections are sure to warm your heart.  

Siri’s Pick: Anything by author Doug Tallamy

Photo by Douglas W. Tallamy,

Siri is a dedicated Library Volunteer, had a tough time picking just one favourite (who can blame her, the world of gardening is full of un-be-leaf-able books, plants, flowers, music, and more!). You’re going to want to follow Siri’s recommendation—after all, she has taken out the most Weston Family Library books since 1999! 

Tip: From biodiversity and replanting efforts to the importance of native species, Doug Tallamy writes about it all. Bonus: You can find his book, The living landscape: designing for beauty and biodiversity in the home garden in our Weston Family Library.  

Roger’s Pick: Rhododendron by Hurray for the Riff Raff  

Photo by Rachel Aroesti,

“Asking the horticulture staff to name a favourite plant is like asking a parent to name their favourite child,” Roger Gettig, Director of Horticulture, tells us. Refusing to answer the question, he instead settled on a song selection—a great addition to your music library or Spotify playlist.  

Tip: Groove to this song when planting your Spring and Summer Garden. 

Tim’s Pick: White Pine Tree 

Photo by Adrienne Legault,

An ode to his childhood—Tim, A garden Shop volunteer, who has been serving TBG for over 10 years, loves the White Pine because the island where he grew up was filled with them. Make sure to stop by to say hi—Tim has some great recommendations to share! 

Tip: When planting this tree, make sure the roots are moist and not exposed to too much sun, as it may dry them up.  

Jenny’s Pick: Lettuce 

Photo by 

Monet’s Garden Mesclun Salad Mix by Renee’s Seeds is a family favourite says Jenny, Director of Marketing & Audience Engagement, “I love my herb and veggie garden which we use to feed ourselves, garnish our botanical cocktails for guests, and feed our two skinny pigs (hairless guinea pigs) who LOVE lettuce.”  

Tip: Adding this to your kitchen garden is easy—keep the lettuce in mild weather with constant moisture and extend the season into the warmer months by sowing in light shade.   

Liberté’s Pick: The Art of Flower and Garden Photography  

Photo by Clive Nichols,

“Clive Nichols is one of my favourite garden photographers,” Liberté, Membership and Database Coordinator says. “It’s great to get tips from the master!”  

Tip: Find this artistic work in the Weston Family Library. Don’t forget to check out one (or two!) more books from the selection of over 10,000.  

Irina’s Pick: Amaryllis 

Photo by stux,

“I just love them,” Irina, Garden Shop Volunteer, tells us. “Especially at Christmas time.” 

Tip: The watering technique is key here. Water your amaryllis just enough to keep the soil moist and avoid wetting the part of the bulb that is above the soil. 

Alison’s Picks: Daffodils, Tulips, Carnations, and Roses 

Photo by MabelAmber,

Alison, Director of Development, couldn’t choose just one (we don’t blame her—there are too many wonderful flowers to love!). She says that, “I love daffodils because they are so happy! Tulips rank high—I particularly like the way they bend and wind to become art when arranged in a vase. Carnations remind me of my grandmother. But there is nothing quite like the sweet scent of a rose. Not very original, but still my favourite.” 

Tip: When it comes to daffodils, cut the stem at a 45-degree angle at once before putting them in a vase of water. On the other hand, tulips are unique in that the bulb that is dug up in the summer is not the same one that was planted in the fall. This is because as tulips bloom, they divide themselves to prepare for the next generation. If you have freshly cut carnations, make sure to change the water in the vase every two to three days to keep them looking their best. Roses, however, love the sun, so it’s important to give them at least six hours of direct light each day for the best growth.  

Giovanna’s Pick: Purple Iris 

Photo by dewdrop157,

Naturally, the purple Iris meets the criteria because purple is her favourite colour. “Also, it’s so elegant,” Giovanna, Garden Shop Volunteer, adds.  

Tip: We’re lucky that the iris is so beautiful because there’s more than 70,000 varieties of them, covering every colour of the rainbow. When planting, just make sure they aren’t too deep. 

Aleeshia’s Picks: Calla Lily and Dill Weed 

Photo by Couleur,

“I can’t choose a favourite. On one end, calla lilies exuberate elegance, simplicity, and beauty; however, dill weed is just downright delicious,” Aleeshia, Grant Writer and Development Coordinator says.  

Tip: Calla lilies are a stunning flower, but they are also toxic and can cause harm if ingested by people, cats, dogs, or horses. Dill weed, on the other hand, is a straightforward process, it thrives in soil that can be well-drained, is slightly acidic, and is rich in organic matter. 

Natalie’s Pick: The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World 

Photo by Michael Pollan,

“It is a fascinating look at how plants impact our lives but also the enormous impact our involvement has on plant communities. I can’t forget to mention that it includes some dramatic tales of fortunes won and lost to boot,” Natalie, Director of Learning explains. “Now, I want to read it again…” 

Tip: Pick up your own copy in the Weston Family Library at Toronto Botanical Garden.  

Want to share your gardening story or favourite pick and be featured in an upcoming TBG blog or social media post? Send a quick email to We can’t wait to hear from you!