Beware: Poison! English duchess plants the world's most deadly garden
England is famous for its luxurious and well-tended gardens. At first glance, Alnwick Garden in Northumberland appears to be a typical example of the country's passion for gardening. However, visitors may see the garden in a different light once they visit the special attraction at the heart of these brilliant grounds.
"These plants can kill," reads an iron gate separating a small portion of the grounds. It may sounds like an advertising gimmick, but it's actually an understatement. Behind the gates is the official "deadliest garden in the world." Every single one of the 100 or so plants in the garden is extremely poisonous. Visitors are prohibited from touching or even smelling them.
The garden was planted by 58-year-old Jane Percy, Duchess of Northumberland. Apparently, she found traditional gardens a bit boring.
There are also some educational aspirations behind the garden: "I thought the majority of children that I know would be more interested to find out how plants can be deadly, how long it takes to die after you eat them, and how horribly painful the death can be."
But that's not all: Jane doesn't only want to educate her visitors about poisonous plants, but also about drugs. There is another section of the garden that features plants such as cannabis and coca plants that are used in the production of recreational and prescription drugs. Jane wants to display the full potential of nature in her gardens.
She wants to show visitors that plants can both heal and kill. The risk of dying in this garden would be an actual possibility if one were to ignore the clearly posted warning signs. Hemlock, belladonna, poison nut (also called nux vomica): each is potentially deadly and in some cases, even smelling them is extremely dangerous. It's not surprising that the groundskeeper has to wear protective clothing when he's trimming and pulling weeds.
Trevor Jones, Head Gardner at Alnwick, offers a tour of the poison garden in this video:
Pick your poison takes on a very literal meaning when visiting this garden. It's certainly interesting to contemplate the unforeseen dangers hidden in nature. Some of these plants are even found out in the wild or in people's yards — yikes!