Elwood Wobken is a plant man.
And he might be somewhat of a trendsetter.
The Hooper man created his own little plant paradise long before TV shows like Turf Wars and Yard Crashers grew to popularity.
Each summer, the landscape around his house blooms with color. Red geraniums, blue floss flowers and yellow marigolds attract more than passing glances from those who wander by the Wobken's Myrtle Street home. Bubbling fountains add to the serene atmosphere and wicker furniture provides a place where Wobken and his wife, Bonnie, can sip cold ice tea on warm afternoons.
Years ago, Wobken farmed northeast of Logan View School. The Wobkens retired and moved into Hooper in January 2000.
That spring, Wobken went with his wife to buy some flowers.
"He thought I spent too much money. He thought he could grow them so much cheaper than what I could buy them," she said.
So Wobken embarked on his own plant-growing venture.
"I thought I'd try it and I learned a lot. I started everything from seed and it just turned into a hobby," he said,
And Wobken is still a farmer at heart.
"You can't take the farm out of him," Bonnie added.
Each December, Wobken pores through catalogs and starts ordering seed. He plants the seeds in trays that fill homemade lighted units in a garage. Wobken built each of the six units.
"It's more fun to make them," said Wobken, 79. "I can make them the way I want to."
In March, he starts putting the little plants into pots in the heated garage. By April's end, he's putting them outside for an hour or so.
That way, they can get used to the sun and wind.
He plants them outside when the weather is good.
It takes Wobken about 20 minutes to water his plants each day.
There are many plants.
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A kidney-shaped, brick planter on the house's south side features about a dozen different types of flowers, including the magenta dianthus, yellow marigolds and red salvia. A statue of a little boy fishing with his dog rests near a pond in the center of the planter. Gold fish and coy swim in the pond.
Wobken jokes that the boy hasn't caught a fish yet.
Not far from the pond is a hanger that holds 29 pots of impatiens, which when in full bloom will resemble a large cone-shaped bush covered with red flowers.
Wobken laid the red paver brick for a patio where three rows of plants grow east of the potted impatiens. There are red dianthus here and pink nemesia and the pinkish Joey plants which originated in Australia.
The Wobkens grow lavender mums and red ornamental peppers on their home's south side.
Pots of red geraniums line both sides of the steps leading to their front porch.
Red impatiens encircle a tree in the couple's backyard, which includes a globe-shaped fountain surrounded by creeping flocks. The Wobkens have their morning coffee at a table and chairs near the tree from which bird feeders hang.
At the back of that yard, Wobken has trimmed an Elm tree so the top looks like a green leafy ball.
"We have to give it a haircut," he said.
Planters are positioned in between brick walkways where yellow marigolds and yellow and red Arizona sun flowers will grow.
Altogether, some 50 different types of flowers grow in the Wobkens' yard.
Wobken said he likes the challenge of seeing how well the plants will grow. The best part, he added, is sitting outdoors in the summer when the flowers are all in full bloom.
The Wobkens also grow tomatoes, peppers and celery for family members. And like their floral hobby, their family has grown, too.
They have four children, 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren
One recent afternoon, the couple paused to gaze over Wobken's work.
"He never thought it would grow to be this extensive," Bonnie noted.
Looking at the rows and pots of plants, Wobken grinned.
"It keeps me busy and off the streets," he joked.