The Vintage Gardener

In Toronto's historical Distillery District (several blocks of 19th Century distillery buildings that have been converted into retail and studio space in the city's south-east side) there is a quiet space devoted to gardening, with a very definite nod to Grandmother.

Called 'Vintage Gardener' the store is a tribute to Victorian elegance, selling all manner of decorative plants, culinary herbs, flowers (fresh and dried), urns and mountains of beautiful flower pots. The space is gorgeously merchandised using antique cabinetry, tables and benches all organically layered, giving the visitor so much to look at. Its old brick walls, tall windows and high ceilings give the impression of a grand potting shed somewhere in rural England. Stepping into 'Vintage Gardener' is like stepping into another time.

The store's proprietor, Elaine Martin, is devoted to sourcing material that is not easy to find locally and avoids the gift-show circuit and cookie-cutter gardening ideals. She does, however, emphasize community involvement by hosting seasonal workshops and luncheons devoted to a particular theme: the culinary herb festival is coming up this weekend at the store, and in August there is a festival devoted to lavender. Smaller workshops, such as wreath-making, window-box planting and creating unique hanging baskets are ongoing. The next time you're in downtown Toronto, be sure to seek out this little gem.

Upon entering the space, one is greeted by a spectacular tableau of garden materials.
Vintage garden ornaments and urns are interspersed with newer ones, dried flowers are mixed with fresh.
Towards the back of the store is a display of terracotta flower pots, mounded high by a utility sink.
Next to Vintage Gardener is a spectacular café called Balzac's Coffee Roastery - a supreme space with supreme coffee and baking.


Ailsa said...

Wow Andrew. Thanks for featuring this. I am always curious to hear about new retail gardening ventures and am familiar with Elaine Martin from the old days. Good to hear she's created such a beautiful space in a dynamic area of Toronto. I love the antique, European look to the inventory and the store and hope she does very well in these uncertain times. I'll be sure to visit when I'm next in TO.

Anonymous said...

Thank-you so much for a wonderful feature !