Gardening is therapy for Cooleemee woman

Published 9:38 am Thursday, September 17, 2015

By KC Smith

Cooleemee Correspondent

All summer I enjoyed coming to the end of Gladstone Road where it intersects with Marginal Street, and seeing the colorful display of sunflowers, zinnias and a tilled garden on the left.

The sunflowers were standing up like soldiers in a line at attention, but even though their heads were bending down now because of all the weight, I decided to stop by and visit with the owner anyway.    

Margaret Bailey is a hard worker and oftentimes I’d see her out in the yard wearing her straw hat tending to everything.

She has a large garden plot each year with flourishing okra, squash, tomatoes and other vegetables.  Her flowers are sprinkled around here and there which paints a natural look to her landscape.

Her neighbor Robert Taylor handed her a good amount of zinnia seeds from his spectacular zinnia harvest and Bailey sprinkled them all along the perimeter of her garden and other places.

She particularly likes to grow Japanese Flying Onions. They have been in her family for a long time and she said once you plant them you’ll always have them. The seeds pop out of the tip and the wind carries them to a place to settle until new growth begins. She pulled up two clumps and gave them to me, which I will share with my brother.

We took a stroll around her home and she pointed out the three Gingko trees she had on the West side of her home.  She planted them when they were about two feet tall after she finished her chemo and radiation to fight breast cancer.  They are a reminder she survived and that was 15 years ago.

Bailey remembers the day after she got her portal catheter taken out she had a bad accident on Gladstone Road that put her into a yearlong recovery.

So many neighbors brought her meals daily.  Lee and Poodle Coble were particularly helpful and she didn’t know what she would have done without their help.

“I’m just happy to be alive”, Bailey says while standing next to a shade tree.

She was happy to say her son, Jeff Bailey, planted the sunflowers for her.

Patrick Holcomb is a young man that helps Bailey in her yard and around the house. She is grateful for his friendship.

If I’m not mistaken, I told her thank you for the three tomatoes, freshly picked zinnias and the two clumps of Japanese Flying Onions.   Been told that is bad luck, so I hope she didn’t hear me because I sure do want those onion to take off.

Feel free to contact me at or 336.250.1133.