A couple of weeks ago, my hubby and I finally got a chance to see the revamped Devonian Gardens in the city’s downtown mall, The Core. Formerly called TD Square, the entire mall was pretty much gutted and rebuilt on the same site between 2008 and 2011. As well as housing the Devonian Gardens, The Core boasts the ” largest point-supported structural glass skylight in the world,” at 85 feet (26 metres) wide and 656 feet (200 metres) long. (There’s a photo of the skylight at the link). The Gardens themselves were closed for nearly four years, and were reopened in June of this year…to lukewarm response.
If the inteviewees’ statements in this article are any indication, I’m not the only one who feels this way. (Did I mention that the renovation to the Gardens alone cost 37 million dollars?).
You see, the former Devonian Gardens were a tropical respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown, a warm, cozy, and inviting place to sit with a book or to watch the resident turtles and feed the trout. Countless wedding photo shoots and fashion shows and Christmas parties were held there. During the winter, especially, the Gardens were a little piece of paradise! Sure, the plants were a little rambling in the 30 year old space, and maybe the worn floors needed a little update, but the whole effect was gloriously lush and diverse…and above, all, welcoming. (I really wish I had my own photos to share with you, but this great pic on Flickr will give you an inkling of what used to be).
Now, we have this:
Well, it definitely looks like we’re in a mall!
The City says it will look better as it grows in, but I can’t quite understand that statement, as the whole landscape will require meticulous, regular pruning, and is already about as “grown-in” as it will be allowed to get. I am impressed with the additional seating areas and I absolutely love the living walls (although people have taken to removing plant plugs, which necessitates large signs to notify customers that the plants are truly “real” and shouldn’t be plucked). And I have to admit, the design of the new Gardens completely fits with the ultra-modern The Core – which, after all, is what planners were going for. It’s simply not to my taste, though, and I really miss the old Gardens!
Perhaps I’m being overly sentimental! Maybe indoor public gardens should have that ultra-coiffed look…what do you think?