BIG RAPIDS – Community gardening enthusiasts, donors and Ferris State University faculty, staff and students have used the cool, crisp days of fall to put the finishing touches on Helen’s Garden. To celebrate the completion of the garden, a dedication is set for 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 9.
The garden is lovingly named after one of the university’s founders, Helen Gillespie Ferris, whose love of gardening has been shared through the ages.
“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the life and contributions of Helen Gillespie Ferris, wife of inaugural president Woodbridge Nathan Ferris, than planting a garden in her honor as the defining moment in the culmination of our 125-year celebration,” Ferris’ current first lady Patsy Eisler said.
The garden will feature plant varieties notable in late 19th and early 20th century gardens such as Lily of the Valley, one of Helen’s favorite ground covers, Ferris State grounds Manager Will Gasper said. Other selections include “Limelight” Hydrangeas, “Louisa” dwarf crabapples, “Indian Summer” Rudbeckia, “Mount Baker” lilacs, irises, roses and boxwood shrubs. Cuttings of “Lonicera,” a woody shrub, have been taken from the Ferris’ original home in Big Rapids and will be propagated.
“Different plants and trees will be grouped together in four planting beds and identified by plant markers so the garden also can serve as an educational tool in keeping with Helen’s love of learning and cultivation of lives,” Gasper added.
Joining Ferris State President David L. Eisler and his wife, Patsy, in making remarks during the dedication are Carla Miller, associate vice president for Advancement; Frank Crowe, director emeritus; John Vanderploeg, professor of Biology and Ornamental Horticulture; and Sueann Walz, university board of trustees vice chair.
Helen’s Garden was conceived by Crowe and will be created through private support from individuals including Jack and Susan Batdorff, the Eislers and other individuals and businesses that also share a passion for gardening, Miller said.
For more information about how you can contribute to Helen’s Garden, please contact Ferris’ Advancement office at (231) 591-3825.