how old are the huge willows in Edwards gardens.
Thank-you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners with your question. A quick survey of online sources mentioning the history of Edwards Gardens yields some basic ideas about when the willow trees may have been planted, but you could contact the Toronto Botanical Garden (TBG) directly to see if they have any more specific information.
The site of the current Edwards Gardens was first purchased by Alexander Milne in 1817. The Milne family settled there and continued to own the property for more than 100 years. Then, in 1944, Rupert Edwards bought it. He transformed the property, creating extensive gardens and rockeries, as well as a 9-hole golf course. He, in turn, sold the property to the City (Metro Toronto, at that time) in 1955 so that it could be made into a public park. In keeping with this vision, the City opened Edwards Gardens to the public in 1956.
I was able to find some photos of the site dating back to the time of Edwards’ ownership (see the link below). An aerial shot taken in 1950 does not show any large willows (the only large deciduous trees in the photo appear to be elms. A photo from 1955, however, shows the leaves from what must be a sizeable willow, framing a view of a bridge. Based on this I would suspect that the willows were young trees, planted around 1950, or shortly before. This makes sense in terms of the very fast growth rate of the Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica). They can grow as much as 10 feet in a year. This would make the oldest trees at the site around 65 to 70 years old. Sadly, the willows are likely reaching the end of their lives since these trees typically begin to die off at around 50 years old (see more on this at the links below).
Please see the articles linked below for general information on Weeping Willows and some facts about their growth and aging patterns:
A brief history of Edwards Gardens is available via the following link to the TBG website:
Here is a link to the compilation of historical photos of Edwards Gardens:
May 6, 2021