My Favorite Things: The Adventures of a Horror Horticulturalist

by Emerian Rich

Name: Chantal Boudreau
Current obsession: Gardening

Garden1Writing might be one of my biggest loves. My family comes first and coffee comes second, of course. I’m rather taken with a sport called jugger too (that’s for another day’s discussion.) But I also have a seasonal love and that’s my backyard garden.

Think of a horror writer and the image comes up of someone wearing dark clothing with pale skin and too much black eye make-up, locked away in some attic or basement typing frantically away at a keyboard. Well I’m not that kind of horror writer. As much as I love late nights trying to devise means of thrilling and chilling, I also like getting down and dirty in my backyard. We’re talking the earthy kind of dirt, filled with weeds, seeds, bugs and compost. The sun at my back and a tan on my face – that’s my summer satisfaction.

Garden3It started off as an experiment. We had grown a large family garden when I was a child growing up in the country. We also had a cow and for a short time, sheep. I had fond memories of that. We grew flowers in the front yard of my first house as an adult too, but we hadn’t had enough space in the backyard for a garden there. And then, for lack of room, we moved.

The house we have now has a great backyard. Once we had it fenced in, primarily to keep my youngest in rather than anything out, we started eying it for a veggie patch, to go along with the patio and swing set. It turned out that fence was an important addition. As a plus to containing a very active autistic boy, it also keeps out the beasties, like deer and rabbits, that plague my neighbours’ gardens.

Now don’t get me wrong – we made our share of mistakes along the way. We found out that some things grow well in shade, and others need more light. Weeding requires patience and precision. Raised rows are better for aeration and irrigation, and feeding your garden with proper fertilizer is just as important as keeping it well-watered. Some things refused to grow, others were slow to start before taking off, some things grew like mad. We learned the best way to get pumpkins to grow bigger (hint: you have to limit the stem growth by trimming them so the initial pumpkin gourds get more nutrients.) We ended up making a lot of pumpkin recipes that year and a lot of green chow and fried green tomatoes the year our garden churned out about a hundred pounds of green tomatoes most of which had to be picked before they had ripened.

Garden2And the fence couldn’t save us from all predators. Birds, slugs and cut-worms have been a source of irritation. As if they weren’t bad enough, we’ve alse been afflicted with fire ants. Part of the garden requires good coverage or you’re at risk for stings, and forget kneeling in those spots to dig, pick or weed.

Besides vegetable bounty, my garden has been a source of inspiration. I feel better prepared to write about the enchanted gardens in my fairytale mash-ups. I can carryover and exaggerate my fire ant problem for a really horrific story (I actually have.) I can write thrillers in a farm setting with plenty of background knowledge. I have chickens too.

When the growing season is over, I hide myself inside for the winter again, making do with my other loves. When the snow begins to fall, I look forward to the spring thaw and my next chance to once again become the horror horticulturalist.

Find out more about Chantal at:


Don’t miss the next installment of this
favorite things series when my writer friend
Karysa Faire
will talk about her obsession.

Do you have something you collect or obsess about and would like to share with my readers? Feel free to comment below or if you’d like to do a post on your obsession, email me at