Rural Missouri - August 2018 - 40

RM

| NEIGHBORS

PERENNIAL
PLANTER
Charles Cassity's gardens
keep growing

Above: Charles Cassity planted hundreds of zinnias, marigolds and other flowers on his land near Rayville. Below: One of the 600 gladiola blooms brightens Charles' garden.

by Libby Moeller | lmoeller@ruralmissouri.coop

electricity, cut brush, carry out maintenance and collect bills. When he decided to retire at age 59, he didn't bother to mention the change to Charlene until
his resignation was turned in and he returned home for the day.
f you travel far enough north on Highway 13 toward Richmond, you might
As much as they enjoy looking at the mix of blue, orange, red and pink
feel the urge to slow down and take in the sights. Vibrant pinks, oranges,
petals in the backyard, the Rayville couple never wants to keep the flowers all
reds and golds pop against a lush green surrounding that's frequented by
to themselves. Charlene doesn't see any use in holding on to the flowers when
birds, squirrels and bumblebees alike. It's happened before and, by now,
she and Charles could be giving them away and bringing joy to others.
Charles Cassity might say he's used to it.
Throughout the blooming season, they make occasional trips to deliver
Every spring, the Farmers' Electric Cooperative member dedicates tedious
vases and bouquets to friends, hospital patients and those living in nursing
hours beneath the sun cultivating his gardens filled with zinnias, gladiolas,
homes or assisted living facilities. Charles and Charlene frequent the nearby
marigolds and irises. In front of the house and visible from the well-traveled
Ray County Hospital and the Shirkey Nursing & Rehab Center, both located
road, the flower plots are in the ideal spot to catch the eye of
in nearby Richmond.
a curious traveler.
"Lots of elderly ladies, they're single, living in apartments and they're
Charles, 80, is the lone gardener tending to the hundreds of
thrilled to get flowers and they are so pretty," Charlene says.
flowers that call his 40 acres of property home. The operation
Charlene loves the gladiolas for their size and color. A standard
started small when Charles first planted his 30 gladiola bulbs
flower delivery usually consists of eight or nine gladiola stems placed
around 15 years ago. This spring, that number has grown to 600.
Rayville
and arranged in a vase. Her happy recipients always return the
"They just keep multiplying every year," Charles says. "I have to
dig them up in the fall and sometimes I have two or three bulbs in
vases so she can keep using them, Charlene says.
Charles decides when to plant the
one plant, so that makes an increase."
bulbs and seeds based on the weathThe grand total surpasses 600 when considering flowers like ziner. Nature's usual culprits pose a
nias, which are planted by seed. Each year, Charles recycles the
seeds and bulbs from the previous planting season. The past sucthreat to his garden. High temperatures make it difficult for some
cess of each seed determines how the flowers will bloom in the future.
of the blooms to break through. Japanese
"I go out in the fall and pick the seeds off the zinnias," Charles says. "Last
beetles gnaw away at the plants, a hungry
year they didn't have too many 'cuz it was kind of dry. So I had a lot of seed
foe amidst the welcome bumblebees and
but some of it was old, so I planted them this spring and not too many of them
butterflies.
come up."
"It would help if the beetles would
Charles and his wife, Charlene, moved to their current home in 1975 after
get on the weeds and not the flowers,"
coming across its listing in a Kansas City paper. They were in search of more
Charlene says.
space for a little farm, and this location fit the bill.
The heat is an obstacle for the
The couple's 40 acres isn't just a haven for flowers. Tomatoes, potatoes,
plants, but the conditions don't keep
onions, watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers, butternut squash and zucchini
Charles away from his hobby.
also grow throughout the yard.
"He's out there in hot weather,
The majority of visitors coming to see the vibrant gardens are well known to
pulling weeds or pushing the tiller,"
Charles and Charlene - neighbors down the road, family members or fellow
Charlene says.
participants of the "God Squad," a singing group through their church - but
During his time with the co-op,
the flowers do draw in the occasional stranger. Charles recalls a visitor a year
Charles enjoyed caring for flowers
or two back who was so captivated by the beautiful blooms that he came to
and plants, but never tended a garknock on the front door.
den of this size. Between extra line
"He says, 'Can I get some flowers?' " Charles recounts. "I said, 'Yeah.' He
work and monitoring his rural crops,
said, 'I wanna get some flowers for my girlfriend.' So he went out there and
he just didn't have the time. Now gargot some."
dening occupies most of his days.
The garden out front isn't the only floral attraction on the Cassity property.
Charlene enjoys picking the occaAn additional plot full of gladiolas sits in the backyard. A few of the glads show
sional tomato, but says she leaves the
themselves by the end of June, but the majority bloom in mid-July.
rest of the work to her husband. As for
"They mostly all come up," Charles says. "But this year quite a few of them
Charles, the garden gives him something
died because it was so dry."
to do in his spare time and provides beauty
Charles spent more than 30 years working for Farmers' Electric Cooperative
around their home.
as a substation serviceman. He has many stories to tell of brutal ice storms
"I just like to go out and look at them and
that led to 60 straight hours of work and tricky climbs to the tops of poles.
enjoy them," he says.
With 600 miles of line to look after, Charles and his team would restore

I

40

RURAL MISSOURI | AUGUST 2018



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - August 2018

Contents
Rural Missouri - August 2018 - Intro
Rural Missouri - August 2018 - Cover1
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Rural Missouri - August 2018 - Contents
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Rural Missouri - August 2018 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - August 2018 - Cover4
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