Family Gardens

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.studiogblog.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

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 Cornfield by Snake eyes (creative commons) on Flickr.

Nine days ago we got side tracked on the way down the driveway. An afternoon of errand running got waylaid by a small bird hopping and trying to quickly flap her way off the road in front of the car.

fledgling bluebird by rochelle greayer on instagram www.studiogblog.comWe stopped, we gathered her up and detoured to the local antique shop where days before I was coveting a pretty birdcage (I just needed a good excuse….).

All errands cancelled…bird in new birdcage, we realized that our plan to singlehandedly help her back to health was probably a bad one since she kept trying to fly, but instead would land on her back and have a hard time flipping over.    If I was going to prevent her from dying in the night, flat on her back…I was going to get no sleep….and then what?

blue bird from National geographic images via www.studiogblog.comSo after some quick recon with friends and vets, we headed to Tufts Wildlife Clinic where we dropped her off.  She is making progress after spending a couple days in wing wraps but they report that she still has a shoulder droop that they are watching. We are waiting to hear about her progress….fingers crossed.  But we did find out that she is a fledgling bluebird and that ‘she’ is actually a ‘he’.  So we have a boy named Betsy.

learn to draw bluebirds via www.studiogblog.comDid you know that bluebirds are one of the best bird friends a gardener can ask for?   She (err, I mean he) and his little family can keep my garden seriously pest free.  Until I found him, I didn’t realize I had bluebirds and given their status as a ‘declining species’  (but coming back) I am desperate to get him back and help him to thrive.

Do you have bluebirds where you live?

bluebird by valentina ramos via www.studiogblog.comI’ve noticed something about blue colored birds.  They really like to eat off my blueberry bush. In fact when I chase birds off my berries….it is almost exclusively a flutter of blue wings.  Concidence? Or some sort of wild kingdom Veruca Salt sort of story. Hmmm…

lego bluebirds via www.studiogblog.comWhen these things happen, I figure it is summer’s way of teaching. While wait to hear about how Betsy is progressing, and hoping that we will get to release him back into our garden soon, we’ve got our eye on all things bluebirds.  I thought you might enjoy some of our inspiration too.

bluebird coloring sheet via www.studiogblog.comImages:

Top – Our Besty – by rochelle greayer on instagram.

Full grown male Blue bird from National Geographic.

Learn to drawn Blue birds.

Blue bird art by Valentina Ramos

Lego Birds

Coloring sheets from 50 Birds  (download uncolored here)




boxman studios garden party in a box (shipping container to party via   I’m planning a heck of a party this summer and ground zero for the shindig will be my barn.  I’m lucky to have a barn (centered in my garden) where such an event can play out — but if I didn’t — I’d be all over this Boxman Studios option.  Boxman Studios have converted shipping containers into movable, instant party places for rent. boxman studios garden party in a box (shipping container to party via There are a few options but this one with a central bar and a built in TV (something I actually don’t need at my garden party , but maybe my guests might enjoy it…) really seems like a lot of fun. Alternatively this one expands with shade sails to create a modern alternative to the typical party tent.   Thinking this could be a great modern garden wedding option?boxman studios garden party in a box (shipping container to party via boxman

I’ve got a little theme going today.  It’s about Cicada’s and all things related….

cicada songs read an interesting article on the NPR website over the weekend about how the Cicadas are coming to the East Coast this summer.  Scientists are looking to crowdsource information about their emergence and you can help by building your own cicada sensor.

Cicada emergence is an occurrence that only happens every 17 years and it has already happened once since I live here in MA (which is only 8 years) so I was surprised to hear of this event coming this summer.  But as it turns out the cicadas won’t be out in MA in full force…it is all going down a bit south of here (more in NY, NJ areas).

You can check when the cicadas will next come out where you live at Cicada Mania.

Have you experienced a full cicada emergence?  A few years back I was in Kentucky for a project when they were out there….it was extraordinary.  The trees were blanketed with the creatures and the noise was absolutely mind numbing in both a bad and a good way — if you know what I mean.

I also stumbled across this free album called Cicada songs….I am really digging the track called Glorieta …. It is worth a listen if you are the type (like me) who is always looking for something new and interesting to listen to.

image from cicada songs

how to make a stick fort www.studiogblog.comToys that leave something to the imagination are hard to come by.   Even harder are those that actually aim to encourage your kids to go outside and make something original.  So when I stumbled across stick-lets I immediately pre-ordered a couple sets (they are already sold out and so you will have to wait until april to get your delivery).  I am pretty sure that my spring prunings will be put to good use with the aid of these clever do-dads.

how to make a stick fort

All you have to do is twist and thread found sticks and twigs into the rubber grips – even child can do it  (oh yeah – they are for kids) to fashion whatever fort you can imagine.

how to make a stick fort

But am I the only one who is wondering what other garden function I might be able to use these for?  Maybe espalier-ing trees?  Or making growing frames?  Got any other ideas?  When I get mine I plan to play a little too — If I come up with some good ideas, I will let you know.

how to make a stick fort

images from stick-lets. 



banging wall in the woods (kids garden)

For gardens with kids….

There is something so magical about this simple creation by an artistic mom for the enjoyment of her children.  It is a banging wall — located far away from the house – in the woods.  Perfect.

See how Vera made it at her blog.

image from make and play.


I find the idea behind Jerry Sohn’s desert garden rooms unbelievably inspiring.   Wanting a place in the vast landscape of the Mojave Desert  (where he owns a small house),  he commissioned Architect Arata Isozaki to create rooms in this place — one for each season.



Jerry likes to sleep outdoors with his family and enjoy the night sky and coolness of the evenings in the desert.   So the project started with the idea of creating a place where they could enjoy the landscape but be up and away from snakes and other wildlife.  What evolved was three ‘rooms’, one each, for Summer and Winter, and then a Third to enjoy the Spring and Autumn seasons.



Each of the ‘rooms’ is designed to highlight the Sun and Moon at that time of the year, as well provide the best accomodation for the season.  The winter room is enclosed in glass to protect from the elements and the summer room is a beautiful and sculptural open concrete platform.


In addition to the rooms, the garden has other artistic installations (Jerry is an art Collector) — this one, Circle of Japanese Fishing Floats by Richard Long is my favorite.

japanese fishing float circle landscape art by Richard Long
big_346476_2433_DO110508006_UPD big_346476_6086_DO110508007_UPD

Read more about the design here: Domus.

images from Domus and Iwan.