Halloween Special – Dark Scary Gardens: Inspired by Children of the Corn

October 15, 2013 | Design

I’ve been researching haunted houses in the area because my daughter wants to go to one for her birthday – followed by a girlie sleep-over. I’ve agreed to this plan, but fear it to be a really shortsighted idea since I have no idea how these six 10-year-old girls will respond to a haunted house. It could be disaster…but hopefully this is the type of thing that makes the best story (in 10 years).

It seems the haunted house scene has changed a bit since I last partook.  The places around here are kind of epic…in fact way more than I would ever want.  They seem to feature multiple scary places (not just a gym or a rec center transformed with a boatload of black plastic), they are purportedly many times more terrifying (even for adults) and they also have dining options and all sorts of other stuff going on so it is (I guess) meant to be a whole evening’s experience.  And the prices are whopping to go along with all this (most more than $30 pp).  I struggle to understand who wants to pay this kind of money to be terrified for hours on end (not me).

Being on the claustrophobic (and cheap) side…I’ve been looking for one of those well done but get you in and out in a half an hour for a fraction of the price sort of experiences.   They are hard to find and if you know of one in my area (Boston/ Central MA) I am open to suggestions.

Dark Scary gardens by www.pithandvigor.comBut getting to the point of this post….I noticed that some of these haunted houses take advantage of some seriously good architecture.  There is one in a historic castle-like museum, one on the USS Salem (this is probably where we will end up if the govt. shutdown ends and it re-opens in time) and even one in an  old abandoned factory building (I shudder just thinking about that one). A nearby place called Witches Woods supposedly uses the creepiness of the forest to scare the bejesus out of you.

All this had me thinking how much more fun it would be to design some of these places – more fun (IMO) than it is to visit.  Of course I immediately thought the setting should be a garden center….or even better an old broken down garden center…

(Note: Above image from Creepy-chusettes an excellent blog about creepy places in my state…seems I’m not the only one who finds abandoned glasshouses with trees growing through them to be utterly terrifying…check out the site for more creepy destinations around New England)

So, I’ve been playing with all sorts of ideas that are inspired by movies and literature and of course gardens… and I’m having a grand old time making boards to share with you.  If you like some of these ideas and plan to use them in your own displays or projects, please take a picture and share it with us – or at the very least leave a comment to tell us where it it – or join and brainstorm/build on our ideas in the comments…it’s all fun.

Do you remember Children of the of the Corn? If you’ve seen it, it is near impossible to forget. If not — check out this run down on Life Between Frames.

sppoky corn field

Is there anything spookier than a corn field?  Lets just put aside the terrors of High Fructose Corn Syrup for a second and go deeper… walking through a field of rows where you hear the rustling of nearby beings…but because you are in a field of sameness your sense of direction is lost and you have no idea what lies perhaps only a few feet away….unless you catch little glimpses…

children of the corn inspired garden decor via www.pithandvigor.com

Making a corn cross is quite simple.  This one was made by The Scarecrow Post (with a brief rundown of how he did it).  I would put one together with the use of a long thin piece of wood (like a firing strip ziptied to a fence post to hold it up.  The rest can be constructed by either lashing together stalks with string or zip-ties.

We road tripped to Vermont this weekend and stopped at a corn maze that was built by a local garden center. This was not my first corn maze but it did enlighten me a little on the details of corn maze making (in that is was underwhelming and I could see how things can go very wrong).  The biggest fault of this particular maze was that the corn was planted much too far apart and the maze was cut too late.  Subsequently  there was no mystery and you almost couldn’t get even a little bit lost but you could twist your ankle or trip at nearly every step on the full grown corn stumps in the path.

I did a little poking around and if you are thinking of making a maze (like a chilling ‘Children of the Corn’ inspired maze perhaps?) — there is a little more thought that should be put into planning, planting and managing it.  Here is a little primer from Wikipedia…but a much more informational paper is downloadable from the Rutgers University Agriculture Agent William J. Sciarappa and Soil specialist Joseph Heckman called “Growing an A-maize-ing Corn Maze”. Worth checking out…it even has a little about the economics of creating this sort of public attraction.

I’ve got a few more ideas for creepy gardens that I am working on with inspirations coming from movies like Coraline, Pet Sematary, Hunger Games, the generally terrifying vegetable patches….I’ll get them up soon.  In the mean time feel free to suggest additions to this one!

Images The Scarecrow PostLife Between FramesCreepy-chusettesSeymour Mfg. 2G-497 Serrated Grass HookSeymour Mfg. 2G-497 Serrated Grass HookMalene Birgerpipii.co.uk. Cornfield by Snake eyes (creative commons) on Flickr.

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I did one for my 4-year-old nephews on their electric tractor trail so they could dress as ghosts and scare adults visiting on a dinner party. The ghosts jumping out and chasing the adults was something totally not expected and was great fun. Things they considered scary were strange piles of rock, oddly arranged sticks, a bunch of bulbous styrofoam wrapped up to look like a body or a mummy in a morgue, a black sheet looking like an aparition on a hanger flapping in the breeze, a plastic skeleton emerging from the earth, and lots of commercial cob-webbing material and of course spiders– lots of spiders. Incidentally, it borders a corn field, of which we as corn farmers find absolutely nothing to be terrified unless it was a corn field in the drought of 2012.

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