|Behind locked gates entwined with wrought iron ivy leaves|
The garden was opened in 2005 and is inspired by the European Poison Garden in Padua, Italy.
Cure or Poison?
You might think at first that you're walking into an apothecary garden as so many of the plants are familiar medicinal plants grown in our own gardens such as foxgloves - Digitalis purpurea, Lungwort - Pulmonaria vulgaris and Christmas Roses - Helleborus niger to name just a few.
|A tunnel of Hedera helix 'Hibernica' in the background while in the foreground is Juniperus communis 'repanda' with Aquilegia growing through it with |
thanks to the Poison Garden for letting me know that it's Vitex agnus castus - the Chaste tree which is reputedly an anaphrodisiac bathed in sunshine behind the creeping conifer.
Buxus sempervirens lines the borders though not for long as it's in the process of being removed due to box blight and it's the leaf trimmings that are toxic.
Then there's Vinca major and it's considered as a poison as it's used in chemotherapy treatment.
|Ricinus communis - Castor Oil plant - Ricin with Pulsatilla vulgaris - Pasque flower|
But in amongst the supposedly aphrodisiac but deadly Angels Trumpets - Brugmansia suaveolens at the entrance, the Castor Oil plants - Ricinus communis and Rhubard - Rheum x hybridum are grown the narcotics too ...........and it wasn't a bird that dropped those seeds!
|The narcotics - Class A drugs allowed to be grown for educational purposes|
|Seedheads from the Opium poppies|
Pick Your Poison?
Only guided tours are allowed and everyone is warned before they enter not to touch, taste or smell any of the plants. No one is allowed to stray from the group and no one is allowed to get too close to them either.
On the half term holidays in October I visited Alnwick Gardens and the Poison Garden was the first thing on the map I just had to visit though there wasn't much poison in flower other than the autumn crocus Colchicum autumnale. Our guide took us around the gardens telling us stories about how particular plants have poisoned people in the past and what those deaths would have been like. Gruesome for sure when you hear how some of these plants affect the body.
|Our guide telling us about the dangers of laurel hedge clippings|
Interested in this topic? You might enjoy another article I’ve written called:
- External link : The Poison Garden by John Roberston (former warden and consultant at Alnwick's Poison Garden)
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