Faces of Saint Peter’s: In her leisure time, Elsie Allen, R.N., directs her nurturing attention to her garden.
This certified emergency nurse works in the new Dorothy B. Hersh Pediatric Emergency Department at The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital. But on days off, when the weather’s nice, you’re most likely to find her in her garden. She’s Elsie Allen, 56, who lives in Fork Township with her husband, Brian, 53, a sales specialist, and their yellow lab, Casey. A native of Neptune, she got her degree from Neptune’s Ann May School of Nursing and has been an emergency-room nurse at Saint Peter’s for 31 years.
Why did you enter the nursing field?
My mother kind of pushed me into it—she knew that in this profession I would always be able to support myself—and I’m glad she did. I love being able to help people. And I love working in the pediatric ED because I don’t have children. In this job I feel like I can be “grandma” every day.
Have you been a gardener all your life?
No, my mother wasn’t into it, and my husband and I lived in a condo until about 11 years ago, so there was no place to garden. When we bought our home, I started with a blank slate and it’s been a real learning experience. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into!
It was harder than you imagined?
I didn’t know how to do it. I planted so many things at first. I love yellow, so I bought a lot of yellow day lilies, but I didn’t know they multiply fast. After two years we were overrun with them. I learned that less is more. This year I planted heather—and I didn’t overbuy this time.
What do you like most about gardening?
It’s relaxing, and I love how beautiful it looks when it’s done. I plant mostly flowers, and I just love the colors.
Does your husband garden with you?
It’s pretty much my hobby. He helps with the big things, like mulching. I do the fun stuff. —D.L.