Yard Work

If I could give out prizes for Best Autumn Yard Decor in my town of Corinth, Miss., I’d award first place to this scarecrow couple who look quite stylish even though they’ve interrupted their gourd-harvesting to smile for the camera. And, yes, I know that — at least on the Calendar According to Retail — fall is over and we’re in the midst of the holiday season and if you haven’t started yet you’re already behind, but  it’s not Christmas yet if Thanksgiving still is a couple of weeks away. I’m just sayin’.

Scarecrows in Alabama

There’s enough to do at Huntsville (Ala.) Botanical Garden’s Scarecrow Trail for an all-day adventure. To see the “trail,” you walk through the gardens and admire dozens of scarecrows that have been decorated by businesses, families, groups of friends. and all sorts of folks. The ‘crows are scary, funny, creative — you name it. Of course, HBG is gorgeous on its own. There are acres of shady woodland trails, flower gardens, natural areas and beautifully landscaped formal spots. My favorites are the peaceful Asian-inspired Garden of Hope and the butterfly house at the Nature Center. For children, there’s a playground paradise with games, mazes and all sorts of fun nooks and crannies to explore. Grandson Nolan, at 6 1/2 months, isn’t old enough yet to appreciate all the fun things he can do there, but on a recent visit he did try to eat the ferns in the butterfly house — what a nature boy! Of course, the Botanical Garden is a prime destination for two of my other top activities: eating and shopping. Clemintine’s at the Garden is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and serves fresh salads, soups and sandwiches, including a yummy roasted veggie pannini plus wine by the glass. Many local folks go there for lunch since you don’t have to pay garden admission to eat there, and it’s certainly worth it. And the gift shop at the Garden is superb — all sorts of seasonal decorations, garden-themed gifts and Christmas-stocking ideas. But the best part of the Huntsville Botanical Garden is that it truly is visitor-friendly. The folks there want to do everything they can to make your experience a positive one. For instance, you can bring your own food and eat a picnic lunch, and if you pay the one-day admission and then decide to become a member that day, you can get your ticket money back. Plus, everything is clean and well-maintained and the volunteers and staff answer questions, give directions and offer suggestions cheerfully and helpfully. Check it all out at www.hsvbg.org.