In the third year, the gardener’s identity still remains a secret
It’s always sunny in the Wedgwood development of Washington Township, thanks in part to an anonymous resident who planted sunflowers at the entrance of the neighborhood.
In an effort to keep the gardener’s identity a secret, the mystery resident will be referred to as “Sonny.”
The concept of anonymous gardening came to Sonny during an FYI segment on a TV show.
“I saw a story about a concept called ‘guerrilla gardening’ which is kind of like something better and more natural than graffiti,” Sonny said.
The areas these gardeners target are public lots that are overgrown, full of trash and generally an eyesore for anyone who looks in that direction.
“They can’t get official permission because the city says ‘no,’ they would be responsible if something were to happen so they can’t say ‘yes,’” Sonny said. “So gardeners go out in the middle of the night, plant seeds and pop-up gardens show up and put a smile on people’s faces.”
Guerrilla gardening in its purest form is something Sonny disagrees with. As someone who admits to being “as straight-laced as you can get,” the anonymous gardener is against breaking the law and graffiti.
That’s when the lightbulb went off in Sonny’s head — the front of the Wedgwood development has flowers planted there every year. Because it isn’t a rogue attempt at cleaning up a vacant lot like traditional guerrilla gardening, Sonny felt confident the front of the Wedgwood neighborhood would be a perfect place to have a few sunflowers planted.
The big thing Sonny wanted to avoid was a possible conflict with the sunflowers being too close to the road.
“I made sure they weren’t too close to the road so any cars coming down the median can clearly see past to see traffic coming,” Sonny said. “They never get close to the edge of the road.”
Sonny’s goal in this is to make the township beautiful, to continue to instill a sense of township pride and in a sense paying it forward.
“It’s beautification, it makes the community look good,” Sonny said. “You’re going to put a smile on a stranger’s face.”
Per Ramona Carey, the head of the Wedgwood Civic Association, the residents of Wedgwood all love the sunflowers.
“There is not one complaint,” Carey said. “It’s all positive.”
“The neighborhood talks, they ask about the sunflowers and if they’re going to be planted this year,” Carey added. “They’re huge, they grab your attention every day. You can’t miss them when you’re coming in and out.”
Carey noted there are at least five sunflowers that greet the residents of Wedgwood every day.
“Everybody knows about them, they’re a pretty face and the residents expect it now,” she said.
“It’s not about me, I’m not in this for kudos,” Sonny said. “I enjoy volunteering and giving back to the community.”
Sonny’s upbringing is part of the desire to plant the sunflowers.
“It’s one of those things where I always enjoyed gardening,” Sonny said. “My grandfather was a farmer. Farming is in my blood.”
Sonny also credited a brother-in-law who ran a flower farm that exported flowers for years.
Sonny’s work has a band of loving followers in the Wedgwood community — the mystery gardener really left a mark.
“The entrance ways on both sides, that’s your gateway into who lives here,” Carey said. “If it’s sloppy and messy, then it looks like people don’t care. It looks like we care — everything is nice. We have mulch, flowers, people want that.”