Man's love for his late wife continues to bloom

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Monday, June 8, 2009
— Summertime is upon us.

That could mean much-needed rest and relaxation.

But maybe you're busy worrying about how you'll fill the tank or fill all those summertime party obligations.

Maybe you're worried about your job.

Maybe you're working two jobs, and you don't have time to worry.

Doug Amon has a cure.

Amon invites you to stop and smell the roses. And he's not just using a cliché.

Amon has 275 rose bushes—most of them already blooming—in the yard of his home at N5088 County O in Sugar Creek Township north of Delavan.

For four summers, he has been growing dozens of varieties of roses in honor of his wife, Karen, who died in 2005.

A sign by the mailbox invites people to stop and smell.

"People are always wondering if I mean it," Amon said. "I really do."

Amon can't say exactly why he chose roses as a pastime after retiring as a milk hauler.

He and Karen had roses in the yard when they first were married, he said. But not in the later years, he said.

Karen loved to be outside working in the yard or in her vegetable garden.

Amon needed something to fill the empty yard, he said.

Amon didn't read a lot of gardening books before he planted the first rose bed in 2006.

He lost the first 25 plants to winter kill, he said.

After that, he potted his roses. He sets the pots in raised beds full of mulch. Each rose is tied with twine to help it stand against the wind that cuts across his hilltop farm.

In the fall, Amon carries the potted roses into a shed that used to be a repair shop for milk trucks.

Against the shed, Amon built a greenhouse where he keeps some plants blooming until December, he said.

When the blooms die, Amon cuts the plants back and keeps them watered very lightly until they start to grow back in the spring.

In the first year, Amon built one bed. In 2007, he added three more. Now, he's up to 11 raised beds. Each bed is trimmed in white lattice, and most of the beds hold three rows of tall roses.

Amon got his first bloom on May 11 this year.

Amon said he doesn't pay attention to color or variety when he hauls the roses out of their winter quarters and sets them in the yard.

The pink, scented "Barbra Streisand" grows next to the yellow "Henry Ford." The beds shout with colors from the deepest wine to the palest lime.

Fondly, Amon points out the blooms with the best scents. Some have no scent, he said. He points out the way the hot pink color swirls one way on the petals of "cherry jubilee" and another way on the petals of "rock and roll."

Last year, more than 300 people stopped to smell. Sometimes, local nursing home residents come out for an afternoon. Amon put a path of crushed gravel around the beds to make it easier for folks to navigate with their wheelchairs and walkers.

Amon trims the flowers nightly to keep his plants blooming all summer. He shares the cut flowers with neighbors and passersby. He takes bouquets to church.

"There's no reason for me to keep them all to myself," Amon said.

Last updated: 10:45 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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