Master gardener finds hospitality in Natchez, shares with others

Published 9:00 am Saturday, October 9, 2021

NATCHEZ — Elizabeth Craig was clearing weeds from a flower bed around her mailbox at 113 Mansfield Drive close to where The Dart landed Thursday morning. 

Craig was born and raised In Collins, two hours east of Natchez on U.S. 84. She is a graduate of the University of Mississippi and did her residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center where she met her husband Vann Craig. 

After Vann served for two years in Korea, he applied for a residency in Galveston, Texas, and the couple went there. With his residency complete, they moved to Atlanta where he worked as a surgeon. He would wake up at 5 a.m. to drive through traffic to get to work, she said. 

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“Our lifestyle and Atlanta didn’t mesh,” she said. “We looked around to see if anyone was advertising a position. Dr. Kissinger in Natchez was advertising for a new surgeon so we came over and he interviewed. We fell in love with Natchez and have never regretted moving here.” 

She said one thing about Natchez that stood out to her was how much the people support each other. People could have driven to Jackson or New Orleans for surgeries but chose to go to her husband, she said. 

They stayed because of the people in Natchez.. 

“We love the hospitality here,” Craig said. “We love the beautiful homes and the loving, caring people.” 

Her son, Mark Craig, is a surgeon in Tupelo and her son Michael Craig works with her in gardening, she said. He had contracted meningitis when he was born and could not come home for a month, she said. This caused a loss of vision in his eyes so he is legally blind. 

Together, they often work on the flowerbeds at Jefferson Street Methodist Church, where she is a member. She said she had to find something to keep her and her son busy and gardening was just the thing. 

“I’ve been active in the garden clubs. I’m a master gardener and a florist,” Craig said. “You really have to know your plants and trees. One day I was at the church working and this man decided he would help me trim the crepe myrtles. In Natchez, we call that ‘crepe murder’. If you don’t let them grow they get knots, and he cut all of them.” 

She is a member of the Pilgrimage Garden Club and cuts flowers to share with people and historic homes, she said. 

“Year round the Lord provides me with blooming flowers, which is good because I’m a blooming idiot,” Craig said. “I enjoy sharing them with people.”