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Thanks to Knoxville couple, shared beauty an annual rite

By David Knopf, News Editor

Charlene Cassity deflects all praise for her husband’s bountiful flower beds back on the man who watches over them.
“It’s all Charles,” she said. “He plants, he weeds. I helped him plant the gladiolas, but he works at it.”
The Cassitys planted 460 gladiola bulbs this year. There are also marigolds, holly hock and a bed of zinnias almost as large as a basketball court.
The prodigious planting extends to a vegetable garden, too. The Cassitys have 65 tomato plants, as well as pole beans, potatoes, several kinds of squash, lettuce and cucumbers.
Charles has been planting flowers and vegetables most of his life.
“I guess,” he said, wasting few words. “My folks always put out a good garden.”
Just as Charlene credits Charles for being the lead gardener, he praises her for helping spread the beauty of his flowers.
“She’s been cutting them off, bringing them to old people, shut-ins, people in hospitals.”
Charlene said she’s taken flowers to resident she knows at Shirkey Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and fulfilled a request to bring flowers to nearby Knoxville Community Church.
The flowers – especially the more fragile gladiolas – were at their peak while the weather cooperated with enough moisture, but the recent spell of hot, dry days sapped some of their beauty, Charles said.
“They were really going well when we were getting all that rain,” he said.
Already looking ahead to next year, Charles said he’s thinking about using a pump to bring water from a nearby pond to help irrigate the flowers.
And like any good grower, Charles was green before green became popular.
“When they’re dry, I come out and strip the seed off of them,” he said of his oversized bed of zinnias in many colors. “I get about 10 gallons of seed each year.”

Charles Cassity said the recent spell of hot, dry weather wilted his gladiolas, but he and his wife Charlene find colorful blooms hardy enough to withstand the stress.  (Photo by David Knopf/Richmond News)

Charles Cassity said the recent spell of hot, dry weather wilted his gladiolas, but he and his wife Charlene find colorful blooms hardy enough to withstand the stress.
(Photo by David Knopf/Richmond News)

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