BIG RAPIDS – Helen Gillespie Ferris had a love of flowers and gardening. She also made an impact in the classroom at what is now known as Ferris State University, the only public institution in the state of Michigan to bear the name of its founders: Woodbridge N. and Helen Ferris.
In remembering Helen’s love of gardening and her passion for education, Ferris State University announced Tuesday the creation of Helen’s Garden.
The garden will be nestled between the university’s Prakken and Alumni buildings on the northeast corner of campus featuring plant varieties notable in early 20th century gardens such as Bluebell and Lily of the Valley. Taking the concept from vision to fruition will be Ferris students studying Ornamental Horticulture.
“Ferris has a rich history and was built on a beautiful love story,” said Ferris professor emeritus Frank Crowe, who was inspired to propose the creation of Helen’s Garden after reading at length about Ferris’ founders. “You know the adage, ‘Behind every good man…I think Helen was in front of a great man.’”
It is fitting for the university community to today honor Helen’s contributions through creation of a garden, Crowe added.
John Vanderploeg, Ferris professor of Biology and Ornamental Horticulture, will lead the team of students charged with developing Helen’s Garden.
“This is a wonderful learning opportunity for students to visit the site of their proposal,” Vanderploeg said. “As a class we can meet not only in the Science building but at the site to develop the vision.”
For more information or to make a gift to Helen’s Garden, please contact The Ferris Foundation at (231) 591-2365 or [email protected]ferris.edu. Details about establishing scholarships or endowments may be obtained from the Advancement Office at (231) 591-3825.