Kenai man fulfills promise to wife by making neighborhood a bit more colorful with flowers

Posted: Wednesday, June 04, 2003

It's been said that if you put two gardeners together, the only thing they'll agree on is that a third person is doing it completely wrong.

Every gardener has a different opinion about how things should be done, but for one Kenai green thumb, his credo appears to be "the more the merrier."

At least that's what some people think when driving by John Coon's house on the corner of North Forest Drive and Pine Avenue, adjacent to Sears Elementary School.

He's put more than 6,000 tulips and a few thousand daffodils in and around his yard to herald in spring at a cost of close to $1,000.

"I wanted to brighten up the corner," Coon said. "We just thought the right of way was kind of ugly."

Coon didn't stop there, though.

When the church across the street erected a chain-link fence, he felt some sprucing up was needed and did some more planting.


John Coon promised his wife that she would be able to see flowers out of every window of their home.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

"I wanted to pretty up the fence a little bit, and I thought big splashes of color would distract from it," he said.

So across the street, Coon put in vibrant, red Apeldoorn tulips and mixed color bulbs of orange, pink and yellow.

"There are about 300 tulips in each of the semi-circle plots," he said.

Despite the flora surrounding his yard, Coon's front and back yard are even more alive with colorful, tightly cupped petals.

Bumblebees buzz all around in what can only be a pollination paradise for the insects, while Coon laboriously yanks out dandelions from around his bulbs.

Although he gets accolades from neighbors and the community, Coon admits that aesthetically improving the neighborhood wasn't his sole motivation for planting the flowers.

"My wife, Sue, loves flowers, and I promised her that once we retired, she would see flowers in any direction she looked," Coon said. "Well, we're retired now, and I'm trying to make good on that promise."

Although retired, Coon still does plenty of hard work. He stays busy in his flower garden aerating, watering and weeding.

He said he doesn't mind the work. His only complaint is that the moose make regular visits to munch on all the fresh flower shoots.

The unstoppable ungulates already have eaten a quarter of the flowers that aren't protected by fence, and Coon knows they'll be back for more soon.

"You can't do anything with the moose when you live in Alaska," he said. "It's hard, but all you can do is sit back and watch."

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