By Ginna Parsons
TUPELO – Cassie Ann Gillentine’s yard is too much to take in at one glance.
Everywhere you look there are flowers, bushes, trees, planters and hanging baskets splashing color all over the four lots that comprise her home.
“People always slow down when they pass to ask me questions about different things,” said Gillentine. “I was out Sunday morning and a pickup stopped with a man and his wife in it and he kept saying, ‘Thank you for all this that you do for us to enjoy.’ It made me feel good.”
Gillentine was a young woman when she and her husband bought the brand new home in a neighborhood in southwest Tupelo in 1952.
“There was absolutely nothing here because it was a new house,” she said. “I started with perennials – buttercups, narcissus, iris, daylilies. I just gradually added to them.”
Gillentine said she buys most of her plants at Mid-South Nursery.
“They’re always so friendly and they help me with all my gardening needs,” she said. “I started shopping there with Mr. Witt Marion. Of course, he’s no longer with us.”
Over the years, Gillentine has added crape myrtles, hydrangeas, camellias and azaleas as well as maple, magnolia, pine, redbud and hackberry trees.
“I have a Limelight hydrangea that I planted by the front door seven or eight years ago and now, it’s almost as tall as the house,” she said. “That thing blooms like mad.”
Gillentine has worked at Reed’s for more than 45 years and, in fact, she’s the one responsible for the red geraniums that brighten the outside of the store every summer. Because of her work schedule, she does most of her gardening in the early morning and early evening hours.
“You can’t get out here in the middle of the day,” she said. “It’s just too hot. Some mornings it’s even too hot.”
In her garden, she has hanging baskets filled with geraniums and impatiens and petunias and planters filled with vinca, begonias and bromeliads. Around the yard are stands of rudbeckia, Mexican petunias, allamandas and zinnias. In one raised bed on the west side of her property, she has planted a few tomatoes, eggplants and peppers along with hibiscus and hybrid tea roses.
“I don’t really have any favorites,” she said. “I like them all. I can’t remember ever planting anything that didn’t grow.”
Gillentine said she got her love of flowers from her grandmother.
“When I was a little girl growing up, my grandmother had flowers, flowers, flowers,” she said. “I didn’t want to play with dolls – my grandmother gave me plants and I’d set them out and they’d do pretty good. I didn’t know it at the time but she was giving me her cull plants. That was fine with me.”
Gillentine said after a long day at work, she enjoys coming home to her yard.
“If I’m feeling down, I go out and pick a big bouquet of flowers and put them on the table inside,” she said. “That just perks me right up.”