This is the designated time of year when we reflect on, and honor the maternal influences that have molded and shaped our lives. We all have, or have had, one woman in our life who holds that most special place. While I am grateful for my mother, I want to reflect at this time, on the Mother of Bates Nursery, my grandmother, Bessie Bates.
In 1932, at the height of The Great Depression, Bessie Bates embarked on a bold, and at the time, seemingly dubious quest. She convinced a skeptical Byron Bates that they should mortgage their house for $200.00 in order to buy cinder block, lumber and glass to build a "hot house" to grow plants in. The fall of ‘32 looked grim. Byron was convinced they would lose everything they owned. "At least we had a home once", he was heard to say. But Bessie persisted. Bessie Bates was so unrelenting with her love of growing plants and the love of people that the five-year mortgage was paid off after the first spring season. Byron Bates was then heard to exclaim, "Look what we have done!" He didn’t have anything to do with it.
After the war, "the old home place" at 26th Avenue and Charlotte was outgrown. The family business was moved to Gallatin Road. Bessie Bates, with her two sons, Earl and Wilburn, opened Bates Florist. Earl and Wilburn added landscaping to their greenhouse efforts. In 1955 they separated the two businesses. Soon afterwards, property was bought on Whites Creek Pike. That is how Bates Nursery came to be.
Throughout the many years, Bessie Bates diligently taught the values of character and work ethic to her children. Today, Bates Nursery and Garden Center exists as a direct result of those values. We gratefully acknowledge the many lessons of our founder and matriarch as we celebrate our 84th Mother’s Day. We dedicate Mother's Day to the memory of Bessie M. Bates.
If you’re considering the gift of gardening for your Mother, we have what she wants!