The End of an Era: Humber Nurseries Closing

After 70 years of delighting Toronto gardeners with their superb selection of nursery items Humber Nurseries is closing down. With a place this size though, you don’t close down all at once. Every time I’ve gone to Humber nurseries of late I’ve noticed them paring down. This spring and summer, at the front of the store, there’s been a bit of a garage sale effect, with assorted random items on sale, including office furniture, as they prepare to shut down their retail operation.

This past visit however, was really shocking, and kind of heartbreaking. It really hit me that this place is (sob) really closing down. What used to be a greenhouse jam-packed with row upon row of a zillion different annuals is now a vast space of empty benches where there used to be blooms. The room that used to house all of their tropicals, with masses of unusual varieties, including hard to find succulents, is also empty.

Another greenhouse that has been completely stripped is the herb section, where I found many favourite scented geraniums and special herbs over the years. Walking into the perennial greenhouse was a bit of a relief, however, as they still have perennial stock, ferns and hostas for sale.

The good news is that everything is 20% off, with some plants and additional 30 or 50% off. Bargains are to be had. Their nursery department, with its immense selection of trees and shrubs, is quite diminished, but there are still some good trees and shrubs to be had at 20% off.

Most greenhouses are now emptied at Humber Nurseries.

The thing we loved about  Humber Nurseries was that they stocked really unusual varieties, plants you couldn’t get anywhere else. Not only in perennials, hostas, wildflowers and ferns, but unusual annuals. It was my go to place for verbena bonariensis, hard to find coleus varieties, black eyed Susan vine, and others.

It was always a must-go place for our family. Every Mother’s Day, Helen and I would take our mum there, and we continued that tradition after she was gone. It was a hike, all the way out to the far north-west reaches of town, but it was always, always, worth it.

We’d pile up our carts, then try to put a few things back before we got to the cash register so we wouldn’t bankrupt ourselves.

I’m sure there are many other Toronto gardeners  who will mourn the loss of this great garden resource.

The good news for garden professionals is that Humber Nurseries will maintain a wholesale location not too far away in Caledon.

In the mean time, go and find some great bargains for your garden. Official closing is October this year.

12 comments

  1. I bought my first shrubs, trees and perennials at Humber Nurseries when I moved to Toronto many years ago. I stopped going probably because of the distance. I’m even farther away now as I’m in a different city now but I’ll always remember it as a special place.

  2. Like others, Humber Nurseries was the spring ‘go to’ place for the family as it did amount to an excursion from downtown Toronto. I myself have stopped going except for special trips and will miss it not being there. So many great individual nurseries have closed over the past years – sad I won’t get that experience again.

  3. Yes, we had a neighborhood plant nursery close last fall. Very traumatic. But now there’s a new nursery opening up next year very close by!

  4. It certainly was great! After I built myself a cool (+5C in winter) greenhouse, I used to visit on my birthday in December. Many of the perennial pots had not been divided at that point, so you could buy a plant with many stems, keep it cool over the winter, and plant it in spring.

    I’d like to thank the Peters family and all their employees for providing a very valuable service to Toronto gardeners.

  5. I had heard a rumour about this some time ago, but was hoping it was just that – a rumour. So many of the good ones (remember Cruickshanks? I still have one of their old catalogues…just because) have gone the way of the dodo it seems.

  6. Wow, I just saw this article. I used to go there quite a lot back in the day but have been going to Plant World on Eglinton W. of late as it was closer. Nothing quite like wandering around a nursery in the early spring to get the gardening juices flowing! Now it seems both are scheduled to be closed this fall. I guess the land is too valuable for the likes of green houses and nurseries….just another bit of paradise lost!
    As Joni Mitchell wrote – “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot!” 🙁

    1. Kathie, We were sad to learn that they’re closing Plant World this year, too. Same song: “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone!”

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