The Poison Garden is a charming and deadly public garden, where the flora and fauna are photosynthetic killers. Within the confines of the Poison Garden there are “over 100 plants of varying deadliness.” Though many of the plants are both beautiful, most are fatal. Located in the Alnwick Garden, the Poison Garden is carefully secured behind locked gates and comes with a dire warning to visitors, “These Plants May Kill.”
Nux vomica’s Latin name implies much, but it perhaps rings more bells as strychnine. Interestingly, hemlock, a poison in its own right, can be used as an antidote to Strychnine, but don’t tell Socrates, who was sent to his death with a cup of hemlock.
More dangerous plants..
According to the Poison Garden, Castor Oil, made from Ricinus communis is harmless, however, “a single seed from the same plant will kill an adult in the most horrible way.” The poison, Ricin causes much suffering in its victims (“nausea, severe vomiting, convulsions and subsequent disintegration of the kidneys, liver and spleen”).
Many of the plants are also medicinal by nature and as the founder of the Poison Garden once said:
‘I wondered why so many gardens around the world focused on the healing power of plants rather than their ability to kill… I felt that most children I knew would be more interested in hearing how a plant killed, how long it would take you to die if you ate it and how gruesome and painful the death might be.’ – Duchess of Northumberland
A final warning…
From Foxgloves to poppies, from belladonna to laburnam, these are natural works of art, many of which must be handled with the utmost care and attention. Stewards often must wear gloves when caring for the plants.
The warning on the gates, ‘These Plants May Kill’ should not be taken lightly by anyone, for with familiarity comes contempt, and from contempt – danger.