One of Britain’s most enchanting flower attractions is the Alnwick Garden. It stretches over 42 acres of land and is filled with brightly coloured plants, breathtaking fountains, and stunning topiaries. Visitors from all over the world come to visit this green heaven throughout the year. However, deep within the Alnwick’s boundaries, there are prisoners held in cages. They can kill a person really quickly, but they aren’t your regular criminals because these skilled murderers are plants.
The Alnwick Garden is home to the world’s most poisonous garden. The Poison Garden gives you the chance to see 100 highly toxic and murderous plants. Some of them are so dangerous, that they have to be kept behind iron bars and in cages. If you accidentally touch or smell some of these poisonous flowers, you might die or suffer extreme pain and hallucinations.
History of the Alnwick Garden
The first garden in the Alnwick Castle was laid down by the 1st Duke of Northumberland in 1750. He hired the renowned Northumberland gardener Capability Brown. After this, the 3rd Duke collected different plants and even raised pineapples in hothouses. His successor, the 4th Duke, created an Italianate garden with a large conservatory. By the end of the 19th century, the gardens were at their green peak, with acres of land covered in flowers, avenues of limes and yew topiary.
During WWII, the garden was transformed into a farm land in order to produce food as part of the Dig For Victory campaign. This sooner or later caused the once lavish garden to fall into disrepair. 1950 was the year when it closed doors.
Birth of the Poison Garden
In 1995, Jane Percy was an ordinary working woman and a wife until her husband suddenly became the 12th Duke of Northumberland, following his brother’s unexpected death. They found themselves with the new title and the old Alnwick Castle (die-hard Harry Potter fans will recognize it immediately). There was a lot to do and a lot of things needed renovation. Percy’s husband asked her to do something about the overgrown gardens and the endless rows of Christmas trees.
This is how the Poison Garden was born. The Duchess of Northumberland hired the skilled landscape architect Jacques Wirtz to help her reimagine the Alnwick gardens and restore them to their previous glory and beauty. She also wanted to do something different and considered creating an apothecary garden. However, thing took a different direction after one visit to Italy. She got inspired by the infamous Medici poison garden and decided she wanted to build a garden dedicated to plants that can kill instead of heal.
The Extraordinary Poison Garden
Today the Poison Garden is home to 100 killer plants, but what makes it extraordinary is that most of these toxic greens are common flowers you can find in home gardens. For example, the colourful foxglove and the all-time favourite laurel hedge can be highly toxic. Other deadly beauties include the common juniper, birthwort, deadly nightshade, hemlock, atropa belladonna, ricinus communis, and other.
The Poison Garden also has a mission to educate its visitors about drugs and has the special permission to grow cannabis, coca, and the opium poppy papaver somniferum.
Visitors are advised not to touch and smell any of the plants in the garden.Children can’t be left to wander around alone and you can’t enter the garden without a guide. Some of the poisonous plants are so dangerous, that they are kept in cages and behind fences. Imagine spending Halloween there at night. It will keep you on your toes and make you scream every time you feel a touch in the dark.
Another attraction is the Alnwick tree house complex. There’s a café, pavilion and a visitor center, which makes it one of the largest treehouses in the world.