News - Blooming Good Gardener Plants Joy

Blooming Good Gardener Plants Joy

Blooming Good Gardener Plants Joy

“Consider the lilies of the field,” Jesus urged in the Sermon on the Mount. Ella Peters takes that lesson literally as Greenville College’s gardener. Blessed with an eye for color and an artistic sensibility, she plants between 2,000 and 3,000 plants each year, beautifying the College and brightening the paths of faculty, staff and students each day.

Ella Peters

Ella accompanied her husband, Galen, to Greenville when he became part of the GC mathematics faculty in 1971. After more than 40 years as a registered nurse, she joined Greenville College’s staff in 1998. Since then, God has blessed her with creativity and vision for the ever-expanding campus gardens. “Every year, God gives me more ideas than I can use,” the master gardener reflects.

“I see the flowers on campus like other people see the sky – it is how God shows Himself to us, in the beauty of the hues. Most people don’t take the time to look inside a flower,” Ella observes. “I see God in the shadows of the flowers.”

Ella grew up in a Mennonite farming family and learned her hard work ethic, love of the earth and strong faith during those formative years. “Being a gardener is humbling. I plant the seeds, but God waters and grows. I am just an instrument.”

Because she believes that we should return to the earth what we take, Ella has developed a series of compost piles to fertilize the College’s flowerbeds. She gathers coffee grounds from Jo’s Java, vegetable and fruit trimmings from the dining commons, shredded paper from the business office and eggshells, bread pieces and cake trimmings from the bakery.

Ella PetersElla gains a great sense of accomplishment from the large projects she manages, unexpected rewards come from the relationships she develops with students. Some will ask a question about a specific plant or tree and end up working alongside her for years. Others are required to work as part of disciplinary action. All experience the uniquely tangible fruits of dedicated cultivation. “Caring for people is what Greenville College is all about,” says Ella, who turns the earth to the delight of many and draws students into the joy of planting.

Among those who have joined Ella Peters in “turning the earth” to the delight of others are Charis Bastian ’10 and Hannah Groves ’13.



This story originally appeared in The RECORD Spring 2014: The Good Earth.

This story was published on March 28, 2014

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