FORDHAM — The serene New York Botanical Garden gets spooky for the coming fall season with grinning pumpkins, creepy creatures and darkened trails in the annual Haunted Pumpkin Garden.
From Sept. 21 through Halloween, the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden will crawl with insect-shaped pumpkin sculptures, giant stick-bodied pumpkin people, a children’s-sized Pumpkin House and a Pumpkin Puppet Theater.
While grownups enjoy some leaf peeping, children can collect and sort seeds, dig through worm bins, dissect owl pellets and, on weekends, watch an expert pumpkin carver turn squash into art, said Kate Svoboda, manager of the children’s garden.
“It’s a wonderful way to welcome fall,” she said.
In addition to the daily activities, the haunted garden will host some spine-tingling special weekend events.
At noon and 2 p.m. each weekend, visitors can get as close as they dare to a horde of creepy creatures, including snakes, millipedes, a bearded dragon, a tarantula and a scorpion.
During Columbus Day weekend, from Oct. 12-14, an expert will show off a Big Brown Bat from North America and a Gigantic Flying Fox from Malaysia — the world’s largest bat.
On the evenings of Oct. 18, 19, 25 and 26, kids who aren’t afraid of the dark can wander along the Garden’s wetland trail, listening for creatures of the night and digging for worms, guided only by their own flashlights.
And on the weekend of Oct. 19 and 20, pumpkins that won a world's-largest competition — last year’s champ weighed in at more than 1,800 pounds — will be hauled to the garden. There, master carver Ray Villafane and his crew will carve them into carnivorous plants and creatures.
In case any of that sounds too spooky, don’t worry — the Haunted Pumpkin Garden is more "aww"-inducing than blood-curdling, Bahti Novaj said Friday as she previewed the garden with her friends and their children.
“Everything is very cute,” she said. “The kids love it.”