Friday, October 18, 2019

Spooks in the Garden

A white statue of a hooded woman, her face in shadows, against a background of large green leaves.
Most people associate gardens with beauty and tranquility, a place where one goes to de-stress and enjoy the beauty and wonder of Nature. But not all gardens are restful and not all the people who visit them are living. Ghosts, the ultimate winners in the sustainable living category, are as much a part of certain gardens as are the trees and plants. There are haunted gardens all across the globe, but let me introduce you to some good ole American ones:

Rocky Mountain AHHHH – Visitors to Denver’s Botanic Garden can enjoy many seasonal activities at this time of year, including a corn maze and Dia del los Muertos celebrations. But, it does not have to be Halloween to get spooked in this garden; there are spirits about all year long. Like many ghost stories, these hauntings are centered on a burial ground and disturbed remains. The land that part of the gardens are on was established as a cemetery way back in 1858. Over the years, the original cemetery devolved into a dumping ground for all sorts of unfortunates. When the city decided to make it into a park in 1893, they hired (for $1.90 per box of remains) an unscrupulous undertaker (another common horror trope) to remove the bodies and take them to another cemetery. He, being a wicked and greedy man, decided to boost his profits by hacking up the bodies and putting them in multiple boxes. Naturally, it did not end well for anyone – living or dead. Visitors report strange sights and smells and, in a decidedly modern twist, cell phones being affected. Here is more on this ahhh-inspiring haunting.

A white marble entry way into the gardens with mist all around.
Yaddo Garden
New York State of Creepy – There are so many hauntings around New York that the state government has a website dedicated to them, the Haunted History Trail of New York State. One of the most interesting of these is Yaddo in Saratoga Springs. Now best known as a prestigious artist’s community, this 400-acre estate was the home of the Trask family in the early 1900’s. The native Mohicans were there first, of course, and, at some point before the Trasks, Edgar Allan Poe also lived there. Supernatural activity has been reported on this land since well before the Trasks arrived and one has to wonder if Poe was drawn to this place because of the goings-on or if he helped create the continuing myths. At any rate, the current activity seems to happen mostly in the elaborate rose garden that was a favorite spot for Katrina Trask. Is she still pining away there for her four children who died so very young and/or are the spirits those of the children playing in the garden? Or is there something much more ancient dwelling there? For more on this upstate haunting, look here.

Red and pink long-stemmed roses in a glass vase on a wooden table with a white wall behind, There are petals floating in the air around the vase.Unsettled White House - Our current president is not the only one haunting the hallways in the White House; in the 200 years since it’s been built, there have been a great many well documented spirit sightings. Abraham Lincoln has probably been seen the most often, with many illustrious people (including Winston Churchill and President Harry Truman) reporting encounters with his ghost. Lincoln may dominate the inside, but Dolley Madison is the ghost in the gardens. As the story goes, Dolley (the wife of the fourth US President, James Madison) imagined and planted the original White House Rose Garden and was very fond of the space. A hundred years later, when Woodrow Wilson was president, there were plans to tear it up and plant something else. When workmen arrived, they were lambasted by the forceful spirit of Dolley herself and work stopped on the spot. Although it makes a good story and does reflect the feisty spirit that Dolley had in her living years, there are many who dispute the details of the story and there is none of the real documentation that exists with the other White House spirits.

Close up of an old plaque in White Point Garden, Charleston, commemorating the hanging of Stede Bonnet and 29 other pirates
Pirate Monument - White Point Garden, Charleston
Ghosts Ahoy! – History, warfare, hurricanes and all sorts of general tumult are all parts of the whole that is Charleston, South Carolina. And they all seem to converge, with a laser-like focus, on the Battery in the Charleston Harbor. This fortified seawall and promenade has been a witness to all kinds of death, from the first shots of the Civil War to executions - notably pirate hangings. It is these buccaneers that are said to haunt White Point Garden on the Battery.  Considering that in one day alone, 30 men were hanged there and their bodies thrown unceremoniously into the marsh, the spirits probably have good reason to be upset… even if some of them were pretty despicable in life. Speaking of pirate ghosts, apparently the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World is haunted: check it out.

Close-up of a drawing of a green woman's head with leaves and flowers surrounding her face. The Green Lady of Wahiawa
An strangely attractive Green Lady of Wahiawa
Green Goblin Aloha – For our final garden visit, we’ll have to travel over 4600 miles from Charleston to Hawaii. There, on the island of Oahu, is the Wahiawa Botanical Garden. This 27-acre site consists of not just gorgeous tropical gardens but also a densely forested gulch. It is in this gulch that the Green Lady of Wahiawa roams. Like Katrina Trask and La Llorana, she is said to be mourning and searching for her lost children. But, in Hawaii (a place with many terrifying spirits), this poor spirit has become a part of the jungle itself. She is said to have ghastly green skin with scales and is covered in moss and leaves. You will probably smell her foul smell before you see her and never bring children – she will steal them. Or so they say. Here is a short film about her from people in her neighborhood.

Are you sure your garden is not haunted? Do you know what was on your land before you? You may want to check it out - just to be sure.
Happy Halloween!

Submitted by Pam

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