Sister Isabel’s Garden at SCHC sows state award

Published 12:31 pm Monday, June 6, 2011

The seeds planted by a group of Vicksburg women have sprouted into an award.

The Green Hills Garden Club of Vicksburg took home a first-place state award for Memorial Gardens from Garden Clubs of Mississippi.

The award comes after almost two years of hard work in a garden built and initially tended by Sister Mary Isabel Rand, R.S.M., a Roman Catholic nun who lived at the Sisters of Mercy Convent and taught at St. Francis Xavier Academy, today the Southern Cultural Heritage Center.

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“We were hoping against hope that we would win because it is a very worthy project,” said Betty Jackson, a member of Green Hills Garden Club. “We are so proud because you never know what you are up against with all the other projects in the state.”

To be eligible, members of the club prepared a book of evidence stating why they deserved the award, along with pictures of the garden, before and after the work at Sister Isabel’s Garden. The group competed against about 10 others from across the state.

Though the club has received its recognition, their work is not finished, said club member Mary Nell McMaster.

“It is an ongoing process. You have to constantly work at it,” McMaster said. “You can’t just plant and walk away, you have to maintain.”

Roses, bulbs, herbs and blooming shrubs are only a few of the plants in the garden. Brick walkways, benches and a small fish pond are also a part of the garden that includes statues of a cherub and St. Francis Xavier.

“We tried to do it in historic keeping with its location,” Jackson said. “Many of our members went to that school and had a memory of what was in there.”

In the early 1900s, Sister Isabel used the garden to provide flowers for tables and herbs for the kitchen.

Green Hills Garden club has been around since June 1951, and now has 26 members and six associate members. In addition to tending Sister Isabel’s garden, the group meets monthly and takes care of two other gardens at the SCHC.

Jackson said that the club will continue working on Sister Isabel’s garden, and other gardens around Vicksburg.

“Our schedule just depends on God and nature, this is a year-round thing,” Jackson said.