We are fortunate to have exquisite grounds around the buildings and lovingly well-kept gardens for our guests to enjoy.
In 1842 Sir Thomas Livingstone Mitchell, Surveyor-General for the colony of New South Wales between 1828 and 1855, laid the foundation stone of his country residence Park Hall on a property of 4500 acres. He grew grapes and fruit trees. In 1860 Park Hall was purchased by Dr Richard Jenkins and renamed Nepean Towers.
Dr Jenkins continued to cultivate vineyards up on cemetery hill and sowed other crops. He also developed further the lawns and gardens and improved the grand avenue of trees leading from the main gate up to the house (that is the unsealed original avenue). It is thought that it was Jenkins who planted exotic species such as the Bunya Nut trees (Araucaria bidwillii). In 1868 one of the visitors to his Nepean Towers property who came by rail and then by carriage across the Douglas Park river crossing was Queen Victoria’s second son, Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, who planted two giant pines at the head of the old avenue.
From 1904 onwards the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart developed the farm, orchards, and vegetable gardens. In late 1922 a major fire swept up the avenue destroying the pine trees, much of the farm and threatened the main buildings. The abundant free labour of the Apostolic School students, novices and brothers saw many developments in the grounds over the next fifty years. However, with the closure of the school and the relaxing of the enclosure around the novitiate many hedges were removed and garden space opened up. In 1974, Fr Leo Hill was appointed with the task of developing the retreat centre, during which time a big effort was put into improving the gardens and grounds. Many of the existing beds were established at that time.
Of special note is the wonderful rose avenue in front of the retreat house. The roses bloom up to three times a year with a festive array of colour and perfume. The other flowers beds too offer such resplendent colour, full of buzzing bees, and rich diversity reflecting the glory of God.
Also worth a mention is the Tower’s cemeteries full of rich spiritual heritage. Click here to browse the M.S.C., Good Shepherd Hill, Appin and Wilton cemeteries.