Step Inside The Poison Garden Where Every Plant Can Kill You
Step inside The Poison Garden where every plant can kill you, if you don’t pay attention to the visiting rules. The Alnwick Garden, also known as ‘The Poison Garden’ is filled with beautiful exotic and native plants. Each one more beautiful and deadlier than the other. It’s a toxic beauty than can make you meet your maker if you get too close to some of the plants.
Home to 100 infamous killers, the Alnwick Garden located in Northumberland, on the English-Scottish border, warns its visitors to not stop and ‘smell the roses’. Jane Percy became Duchess of Northumberland in 1995 and along with her new title came the Alnwick Castle. This castle served as the setting for Hogwarts in the first 2 Harry Potter films so it’s pretty much the most mystical place you can visit in England.
Her husband asked her to do something about the castle’s gardens which had no aesthetic appeal and were not arranged in any specific style. This is where the Duchess’ brilliance and creativity kick in. “I think he thought, ‘That will keep her quiet, she’ll just plant a few roses and that’ll be it,'” the duchess said.
In 1996 she decided to hire Jacques Wirtz, a talented and experienced landscape architect who also worked with the Tuileries in Paris and the presidential gardens of France. Now, Jacques had to reinvent an almost abandoned garden. And he succeeded!
With 14 acres of deadly plants, the Alnwick Poison Garden attracts approximately 600,000 visitors per year, being North England’s most popular tourist sight.
“I realized I could do something really great if I had the right team,” the duchess added. “If you’re building something, especially a visitor attraction, it needs to be something really unique, […] One of the things I hate in this day and age is the standardization of everything. I thought, ‘Let’s try and do something really different.'”, she said.
After visiting the Medici poison gardens in Italy, the duchess decided that it was time to create a garden that can kill, because gardens with plants that can heal are all around us. It’s called nature…
“I thought, ‘This is a way to interest children,'” she said. “Children don’t care that aspirin comes from a bark of a tree. What’s really interesting is to know how a plant kills you, and how the patient dies, and what you feel like before you die. What’s extraordinary about the plants is that it’s the most common ones that people don’t know are killers,” the duchess stated.
Probably one of the hardest things is to make visitors understand the huge (and deadly!) dangers they are exposed to.
“People think we’re being overdramatic when we talk about [not smelling the plants], but I’ve seen the health and safety reports,” the duchess says. “It’s a way of educating children without having them realize they’re being educated,” she added.
It’s usually the prettiest and most interesting plants that have the ability to kill in the most painful and mysterious ways.
“It’s an amazing aphrodisiac before it kills you,” she says about one plant. “[Angel’s trumpet] is an amazing way to die because it’s quite pain-free,” the duchess said. “A great killer is usually an incredible aphrodisiac.” warns Jane Percy. “Most plants that kill are quite interesting.”