April 1, 2019 Stevens Point, WI
A feud between neighboring plant lovers threatens the day/night cycle for hundreds of people in central Wisconsin. The dispute all started when April Loof, a well known garden writer in the region, decided to plant sunflowers throughout her yard. “I’m working on an article that I’ll enter in the GardenComm Media Awards,” she said, “so I need plenty of photos.”
All went well with Loof’s plan until these Helianthus annuus started to bloom. Suddenly, the properties on all sides of her were illuminated by the glow generated by so many sunflowers.
“The light was blinding,” one of Loof’s neighbors complains. “We had to keep all our shades and curtains closed if we wanted to get any sleep.” Another neighbor who raises chickens on Bogus Farm protested that, “The sunbeams from those plants were creating havoc with our egg production. The roosters were crowing twenty-four seven, and the hens didn’t know if it was time to lay, eat or sleep.”
But things escalated dramatically when Y. Prank, another garden lover whose property abuts the Loof sunflower garden, decided to fight fire with fire…or rather, plants with plants. Prank first began filling his garden with groups of evening primrose. When these plants seemed to dim the rays from Loof’s sunflowers, he continued with large plantings of Queen of the Night, an Ephiphyllum that is also called night-blooming cereus. Discovering that these too had a mitigating effect on the sunflowers’ beams, he resolved to move on to even stronger selections.
Soon Prank’s yard was filled with the weeds known as black nightshade, plunging the area into twenty-four hours of darkness. “Now my roosters are sleeping night and day,” the owner of Bogus Farm confided in a recent interview, “and kids in the area have stopped going to school because they won’t take off their pajamas.”
When Loof was contacted about her response to the sudden dark, her response was typical of a confirmed plant geek. “I’ve just planted ‘The Rising Sun’ Redbud tree near Prank’s property line,” she admits, “and I’ll be poking sunflower seeds and a few other plants in the ground tomorrow. I’m telling everyone in the area to keep their sunglasses and sunscreen handy.”
Prank responded that the residents of this Wisconsin neighborhood might want to keep their flashlights nearby as well. “I’m watching Loof’s yard,” he confided to this reporter, “and although I hate to employ something so lethal, if I see that she’s planting Sunpatiens or ‘Bright Lights’ Cosmos, I’ll be ready to put in plenty of deadly nightshade.”