Spread across 120 acres, the picturesque grounds of Huntsville Botanical Garden sprout trails that meander in and out of 10 themed gardens. Enlivened by the technicolor bursts of blooming perennials and the squeal of plesiosaur hatchlings from the aquatic pavilion, the gardens surround visitors in seasonal splendor. Avid gardeners can gawk at the verdant 5-acre central corridor garden—whose flowering shrubs and trees offer an ever-changing kaleidoscope of color throughout the year—while the children's garden presents youngsters with an interactive playpen, where they can learn the science behind photosynthesis and how prisms work. The Huntsville Botanical Garden gift shop is filled with a variety of unique gifts, knick-knacks, and curios such as wine-bottle-shaped tote bags ($11) and the Huntsville Sketchbook ($24.95), a coffee-table book of paintings by local artists.
In the early 20th century, Tate Farms was a social hub for sharecroppers, who congregated at farmer John Patterson's general store, blacksmith shop, and gristmill. More than 200 harvests later, John Patterson's grandson, Homer Tate's descendants continue to uphold the farm’s legacy as a community gathering spot. However, instead of waiting for a new batch of horseshoes or gossiping about which neighbor might be a spy for the Kaiser, people now come to pick from 90 varieties of pumpkins on the 70-acre pumpkin patch. Leading visitors across the wider 5,000-acre fields, tour guides not only illuminate the farm’s history but teach visitors rural-agriculture info, including lessons on the role bees play in pollinating pumpkins and cotton.
Though the Tate family strives to preserve the past, they have retrofitted the farm with a brand new 14,000-square-foot covered area. Here, visitors sample fresh pumpkin pie made with the farm’s own pumpkins at the Country Café or head to the bakery for fresh pumpkin muffins and cinnamon rolls.
Corn stalks rustle mysteriously around guests as they tiptoe warily through Stalk!, Deadwood Hollow’s haunted corn maze, setting an ominous scene straight out of a horror film. As an oscillating spotlight sends its rays sweeping across the 4.2-acre cornfield, casting angular shadows on the ground, a procession of dark-eyed, blood-splattered zombies pursues passersby in an effort to dine on their gray matter or read position papers on the unflattering ways in which their brethren are portrayed in popular culture.
This demon-possessed setting is complemented by Deadwood Hollow’s Haunted Trail, a spine-tingling path through the woods. As guests creep further into the ever-darkening forest, they’re greeted by the ghastly symptoms of a coming apocalypse, presenting them with a landscape more psychologically fearsome than a Rorschach test conducted by Dr. Frankenstein.
Obscured by the jagged branches of towering trees, the pale moonlight scarcely illuminates the night. Through the darkness, the sound of snapping twigs and rustling leaves sends a clear message: you are not alone. This is the spine-tingling setting waiting to welcome brazen guests as they embark upon their journey through the Haunted Woods in Howell. The one-hour odyssey is interrupted by spine-tingling scenes, including an encounter with the headless horseman, an exorcism, and at least one terrifying tête-à-tête with a high-school gym teacher. More than 70 live actors ensure a night of novel scares, and all funds raised will benefit the Hazel Green High School baseball and theatre programs.