There’s a place, hidden in Northumbria, that’s home to the world’s deadliest garden and in which every single plant is capable of killing a human!
Past the meandering walkways and joyful blooms at The Alnwick Garden lies a macabre plot that’s only accessible by appointment.
Tucked away behind menacing looking black iron gates and under strict lock and key lie some of the deadliest species of plants known to mankind.
Suitably known as the ‘Poison Garden’, it houses some of the most beautiful but most deadly flowers in the world, which have been known to cause people to pass when getting too close.
Brimming with around 100 toxic and narcotic plants, the most dangerous are kept in cages to keep those touring the garden safe from harm.
A warning on the Alnwick Garden website states: “Visitors are strictly prohibited from smelling, touching, or tasting any plants, although some people still occasionally faint from inhaling toxic fumes while walking in the garden.
“A combination of dark, ivy-covered tunnels and flame-shaped beds creates an educational garden full of interest and intrigue, where the most dangerous plants are kept within giant cages.”
Speaking during a virtual tour, Trevor Jones, head gardener, described the dangers of the plants housed in the Poison Garden. He said: “Datura will put you to sleep, forever.”
“Aconitine will kill you.
“Laurel will produce cyanide… and kill you.”
“Atropa Belladonna – just four berries are enough to kill a child.
“Every plant here in the garden is poisonous and has the ability to kill you.
Describing some of the other inhabitants of the garden, he added: “Giant hogweed. It will get up to around about eight foot high and it’s phytotoxic – so it will burn your skin and give you blisters for up to seven years.
“Aconitine, or monkshood, has wonderful blue flowers, but the whole of the plant is poisonous.
“The berries, crushed up and fed to you, will kill you.
“The leaves themselves will kill you also, as will the root and stem.”
In 2010 Aconitine seeds were used by a spurned woman to poison her lover after he married someone else. WOOAH!
While another plant, which grows in the garden, known as Angel’s Trumpet, causes confusion, delirium followed by hallucinations, drowsiness and coma when ingested.
And if the seed coat of the resident Ricinus Cominis is injected or inhaled it causes all of a person’s internal organs to shut down resulting in death within six days.
Despite the dangers, the garden has to be maintained, and the gardeners have a strict protocol in place to manage the macabre plot – which involves covering their skin when tending to the plants…
…I should think so too!
Originally planted by the Duchess of Northumberland, it’s said she wanted a more interesting alternative to a traditional herb garden.
In an interview, the Duchess said:
“What’s extraordinary about the plants is that it’s the most common ones that people don’t know are killers. Visitors are often surprised to learn that the laurel hedge, nearly ubiquitous in English gardens, can be highly toxic.”
Yes, a laurel is genuinely poisonous, it’s not uncommon that after loading up their cars with pruned laurel leaves to take to the dump, drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel of their car from the toxic fumes the branches emit.
Despite the current restrictions, The Alnwick Garden is still open, but are operating on reduced tickets.
To view more of our interesting, funny and local articles – click here.