Lighting up the Garden

The Tower Hill Gardeners got together for one last workday and created some holiday magic in the Garden. We’re getting ready for the Winter Solstice Event we are co-hosting on Sunday, December 20th.


Twinkle lights in the pine tree,

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Garland on the cabin and gold balls in the oak tree,


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and presto … Christmas magic!


No skating on the pond this year, but look at the reflection of the lights in the still, black water!


We went all out and put a Christmas tree on the big porch and the policeman is in the spirit too!


Join us on the 20th for some family fun and gather around our Winter Solstice bonfire to celebrate the longest night of the year and encourage the sun on its journey towards spring and summer!

Check our Events page for more details!




Garden Days at Tower Hill

Poster snip

Garden Days at Tower Hill is part of a national event to celebrate gardens and gardening and to bring garden lovers across Ontario  together.

Our Garden Days event, hosted by the Parry Sound and District Horticultural Society, Tower Hill Gardeners and Museum on Tower Hill was an overwhelming success. The weather was perfect and the Garden looked wonderful.

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The night before the event, it was green and serene in the Garden.

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But Saturday morning was a different story.  By ten o’clock we were all set up and people had already started arriving … enjoying the sunny day in the Garden and browsing the plant sale and vendors,


While they waited patiently for the opportunity to view the Flower Show .


The workshops were well attended.

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And the Strawberry Social was a big hit.  There were plenty of places to enjoy the treat … under the Rotary tent,

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or on a blanket under a tree near the pond.


In the blink of an eye, the day was over. Another flurry of activity and we were all packed up.

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And just as we were ready to leave … more people started to arrive.  It was a wedding party coming to have their photos taken.  A picture perfect way to end a picture perfect day!


The next morning, the tent was taken down and all that was left was the memory of a successful event and the hint of the truck that took it away!

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Garden Days at Tower Hill


Don’t miss our first ever Garden Days and GardenOntario Week event this Saturday, June 20th from 10 am to 4 pm.  For a complete listing of events and vendors click here.


Be careful what you wish for …

… because you may get your wish granted.

Council voted last week to support a resolution allowing a volunteer effort to repair/renovate/restore the Ranger Cabin.  The Cabin was given a heritage designation along with the Garden in December 2011 and in June 2012 Council directed staff to pursue funding opportunities to assist with the renovation.  At that time they agreed that they would not like to see the Cabin deteriorate beyond repair. As the grant sought by staff was turned down, Council is considering financial support through the budget process but has made the decision that working with volunteers and community partners will hasten achievement of the goal.



It is in sad shape all right … the roof needs to be repaired and replace and the interior …



But the building is sound so with a little help from the business community and council and a lot of sweat equity from volunteers across our broader community (not only Parry Sounders) who have already expressed an interest in lending a helping hand we are embarking on the project.  Our goal is to restore it to the exterior configuration as it was in the 30’s and 40’s as it was designed by Peter McEwen to harmonize with the grounds. The open porch will be the perfect place for grandparents to sit and rest while their charges “charge ” up the Tower to admire the view!



Join us for a Tree Planting & Plant Sale

The Bur Oak Tree we are planting in commemoration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee arrived last week.  It was donated by the Ontario Horticultural Association and the Parry Sound and District Horticultural Society, who decided it should be planted in the Tower Hill Garden as part of our efforts.

As you can see from the size of the pot, it is a pretty hefty specimen, so we decided we should do the actual planting in advance of the ceremony. A bit much to ask our of our MPP and Mayor but not too much for “women with shovels”! The site selected was perfect; they hit bedrock at exactly the right depth, we wrestled it out of its pot and into the hole and it stood up straight and proud without too much juggling.

We tickled and released the roots since it was a container tree and filled the whole with a “little” help!

Tomorrow we’ll stake it and dress it up with a ribbon for the official planting at 2:30 pm on Saturday during the Doors Open event on Tower Hill.  We will also be having a plant sale starting at 10:00 am.

We’re in the news again!

Gardening group beautifies Tower Hill gardens

Gardening group beautifies Tower Hill gardens. Wayne Rush, a Tower Hill garden volunteer and member of the Parry Sound and District Horticultural Society took the above birdhouse down in July, repainted and repaired it in time for the Doors Open event that takes place on September 29. Robert Mansfield photo

PARRY SOUND – The Tower Hill Gardeners have had a busy summer. The group of about 20 volunteers is made up of a number of volunteer groups/community partners in the area.  The group meets each Wednesday morning and Thursday evening for two to three hours and have collectively put in over 300 hours of gardening since they started at the end of June.  They have been focusing on weeding, pruning and edging.  The group has planted perennials in the rock garden at the base of the tower but have been waiting for summer’s end (and the donation of plants and money) for more planting.  They also have put plants in the pond to improve the habitat for the fish and have installed a spray head on the fountain in the pond.
Group member Anne Bossart said they are amazed at how many visitors have come to climb the tower this summer.
“It seems there is always someone having a picnic,” said Bossart.  “We have had many, many people express their admiration and appreciation for what we are doing.  It is really gratifying – I just knew that the people of Parry Sound cared.”
The garden will also be open for the Doors Open event on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The group will be hosting a plant sale that morning followed by a flower arranging demonstration sponsored by the Parry Sound and District Horticultural Society.  There will be a display and slide show telling the story of the Tower Hill Park and garden and a ceremonial tree planting of a bur oak tree donated by the Ontario Horticultural Association in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (time and dignitaries to be announced).
(Submitted article)

This article is for personal use only courtesy of – a division of Metroland Media Group Ltd.

Before and after!

Last week, our Monday evening gardeners put all the rocks back on one side of the drive and on Wednesday we attacked the other side … pulling it apart, weeding and edging and getting it all back together in one morning.  Who’s a rock star now?

And who is that with the camera in the background?  Cogeco was there to interview Peter Brown (Director of Public Works) about the restoration of the Ranger Cabin and also took some footage of our gardeners in action.

Let there be water!


There’s a new pump in the pond.  It’s a bit enthusiastic but we’re planning to put a fountain head on it so that there will be more of a gentle shower coming down on the plants.  We’ve moved some of the water lilies to a spot more to their liking (still water) .

The fish and frogs like the plants and rock shelters we have organized for them.


We made the front page of the North Star

Tower Hill Heritage Garden passes a hurdle. This photo comes from the archives of resident Morley MacDonald, the grandson of Charlie MacDonald, shown above, who was the first towerman. The photo shows MacDonald in the garden on tower hill during its glory days. Work on the gardens started in the late 1920s. Submitted photo

By Sarah Bissonette

December 21, 2011

PARRY SOUND – Tower hill is now a heritage site.
With that, plans are coming together for a community effort to restore the gardens and ranger cabin to the glory of the early 1930s, reinstituting it as a place where people can learn about Parry Sound’s past and the ecosystem.
“The way you figure out what is culturally important in our heritage…think about what you describe to a visitor to Parry Sound or what you show them first…personally for me, what I like to think of, what really defines us, who we are, what we come from is our garden on Tower Hill,” said Anne Bossart, a member of the former municipal heritage committee before council voted earlier this  month.
Heritage designation
Town council approved the property’s designation at its December 6 meeting. It first approved the designation for the property it maintains in principle in October 2010.
Before the vote, Bossart painted a vision of what the area, referred to as the Tower Hill Heritage Garden, could be for people in the future: a trail to learn about the land’s history and the ecosystem, a tower to look out over the town, a garden, complete with a pond, to relax in, and a restored ranger cabin.
Although there’s no official group, Bossart has gathered a group of volunteers willing to take on the project from the West Parry Sound District Museum, Parry Sound Horticultural Society, Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve and Parry Sound Nature Club.
“The last thing I see there is the ranger cabin,” she said in her presentation to council. “It’s not wonderful the way it is (now) but it was put there by Mr. McEwen, (the) forester who set out the original fire tower and had his ranger living there. I see that ranger cabin, one of many things, it could be a place for people to sit and enjoy the view, it could be a place for a picnic. It could also be a place where we could have an interpretive display telling the story of the garden, the fire tower and the logging heritage.”
The now dilapidated ranger cabin gave council pause before they designated it and the garden as a heritage property.
Some on council wondered if the building was included in the designation, if the town could demolish it at a later date if need be and if it had appropriate liability insurance if anything untoward should happen due to its current condition.
“I’m not sure it’s worth saving at this point, it’s about to fall apart,” said Coun. Dan McCauley. “Sometimes not everything can be saved and this is something that might not be able to be saved.”
Council was assured it could still have the building torn down if necessary and that the town had the appropriate liability insurance.
Coun. Dave Williams sits on the museum board as the town’s representative.
“I certainly don’t want us to be the wet blanket on this group of volunteers,” he said.
Attributes protected with the heritage designation include stonework, rubble walls, the sundial, the pond and surrounding decking, the observation tower and ranger cabin.
“I see it as the place where our natural heritage stories are told,” said Bossart.

This article is for personal use only courtesy of – a division of Metroland Media Group Ltd.

It’s Official – Tower Hill Park & Garden is a Heritage Asset

Town Council voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to pass a bylaw designating the garden as a Heritage Property.  This action acknowledges that Tower Hill Garden is something valued by the community that we wish to pass on to the future.

We look forward to embarking on the journey of bringing it back to the community status it held when the North Star wrote (in 1974)

Today the gardens are considered one of the showplaces of Parry Sound, attracting an estimated 25,000 visitors each year.  Besides beautiful flower gardens and a lovely sunken pool stocked with exotic fish, you’ll  find odd shaped rock formations gathered from all over the district

The rocks are still there as are the great-great-grandchildren of those exotic fish.  Stay tuned as we make plans to replant the flower gardens.