Every morning, 90-year-old Robert Cory gets out of bed, has breakfast with his wife, Carolyn, and goes to work. Fortunately for this nonagenarian, his job is literally in his own backyard. Cory is the owner of Cory’s Wildflower Gardens, a 7-acre garden in Chillicothe.
Each spring and summer, Cory’s garden becomes a colorful explosion of field-grown wildflowers, including hostas, peonies, ferns, begonias and Virginia bluebells. Customers are invited to wander the property and choose plants from raised beds to take home and transplant, or pick from already potted plants.
Cory hauled several tons of natural stone from McDermott for the landscaping, and the 9,400 bricks in the couple’s driveway were hauled from Rock. He says he wants his customers to take their time and enjoy the view. After all, an appreciation for nature’s beauty is why Cory started the nursery 65 years ago.
“He’s been gardening ever since he was old enough to walk, from what he tells me,” Carolyn Cory says. “When he was young, he would go out into the woods and gather fronds and wildflowers and bring them back to the house and plant them for his small garden.”
“I’ve always loved nature and the wild outdoors, but I didn’t always do this for a living. I worked for a company 40 miles from here until I took early retirement,” Robert Cory adds. “I got started 84 years ago collecting native plants on my parent’s farm and always took an interest in the wild plants and nature. This has always been a hobby, but it just kept growing. I’ve done this for 65 years in my spare time.”
Cory can quickly list the varieties of wildflowers that bloom in his garden, but don’t ask him to name a favorite.
“I appreciate most any wild plant that blooms. In the springtime, we have 7 acres of daffodils here on the whole property. They’re all beautiful,” he says.
Cory says the garden has also played a big role in his physical longevity.
“I enjoy what I’m doing. When you get up in the morning and go out there in the garden, you forget all this stuff going on in the news and everything. You’re in a different world,” he says.
“If I’m in the house here for several days and it’s raining or something, my blood pressure goes up to about 160. If I’m out in the garden, it drops to about 125, so it makes a big difference.”