The Poisonous Garden of Death

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The Poison Garden located in Alnwick Castle, Alnwick, Northumberland, England. Picture: Graeme Peacock, Alnwick Castle.

How would you like to visit a garden where every plant can potentially kill you? The gardens at Alnwick Castle in England have such a thing and you can actually go on a tour through this morbid attraction for only 16£!

The garden was apparently created back in 1750 by the 1st Duke of Northumberland and flourished until it was closed in 1950 after being used to provide provisions for people during the second world war.

The garden was revived back in 1997 by Jane Percy, Duchess of Northumberlan and opened to the public in 2001. The Poison Garden was added in 2004. The gardens get roughly 800,000 visitors per year.

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Visitors can go on a small guided tour of the Poison Garden of 20 people or less. Picture: Margaret Whittaker, Alnwick Castle.

As you can see from the photo, some of the plants are in the open and some are in cages for protection.

Make sure you don’t try to visit in the winter time as Alnwick Castle is only open daily between 29th March and 28th October 2018.

I contacted the castle directly and they supplied me with a list of 97 types of plants that they currently showcase in the Poison Garden. See below:

  1. Aconitum lycotonum (Wolfsbane)
  2. Actaea spicata (Black Baneberry)
  3. Aristolochia longa (Birthwort)
  4. Arum italicum (Marmoratum)
  5. Bulbocodium vernum (Spring Meadow Saffron)
  6. Chelidonium majus (Greater Celandine)
  7. Colchicum autumnale – mauve and white doubles
  8. Convallaria majalis (Lily of the Valley)
  9. Cynoglossum officinale (Hound’s Tongue)
  10. Daphne laureola (Spurge Laurel)
  11. Daphne mezereum (Mezereon)
  12. Brugmansia suaveolens (Angel’s Trumpet)
  13. Echium vulgare (Viper’s Bugloss)
  14. Fritillaria – imperialis and meleagris (Fritillary)
  15. Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrop)
  16. Helleborus foetidus (Stinking Hellebore)
  17. Hyacinthoides non-scripta (Bluebell)
  18. Leucojum aestivum (Snowflake)
  19. Lithospermum officinale (Gromwell)
  20. Mercuriali sperennis (Dog’s Mercury)
  21. Narcissus pseudonnarciss, ‘Tresamble’ bulbocodium
  22. Oenanthe crocata (Hemlock Water Dropwort)
  23. Prunus laurocerasus (Laurel)
  24. Rheum rhaponticum (Rhubarb)
  25. Rumex obtusifolius (Broad-leaved dock)
  26. Scutellaria lateriflora (Virginian Skullcap)
  27. Senecio jacobaea (Ragwort)
  28. Solanum dulcamara (Woody Nightshade)
  29. Symphoricarpus albus (Snowberry)
  30. Symphytum officinale (Comfrey)
  31. Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata Aureomarginata’ (Yew)
  32. Viscum album (Mistletoe)
  33. Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove)
  34. Veratrum album (White False Mottlebare)
  35. Helleborus niger (Christmas Rose)
  36. Digitalis purpurea ‘Alba’
  37. Aconitum napellus (Monk’s Hood)
  38. Vinca major (Periwinkle)
  39. Polygonatum odoratum (Salomon’s Seal)
  40. Cimicifuga racemosa (Bugbane)
  41. Helleborus cyclophyllus
  42. Veratrum nigrum
  43. Digitalis ferruginea
  44. Aquilegia atrata
  45. Helleborus purpurascens
  46. Atropa belladonna (Deadly Nightshade)
  47. Dracunculcus vulgaris
  48. Helleborus niger
  49. Bryonia dioica
  50. Polygonatum odaratum
  51. Papaver somniferum
  52. Aconitum napellus
  53. Artemisia absinthium
  54. Ruta graveolens
  55. Helleborus orientalis
  56. Foeniculum vulgari
  57. Pulsatilla vulgari
  58. Lolium temulentum
  59. Ranunculus acris ‘Multiplex’
  60. Lactuca serriola
  61. Vinca Major
  62. Helleborus ‘Early Purple’
  63. Atropa mandragora
  64. Euphorbia x martini
  65. Aquelegia alpina
  66. Papaver somniferum
  67. Pulmonaria angustifolia (Blue Ensign)
  68. Ricinus communis
  69. Foeniculum vulgare (Giant Bronze)
  70. Nicotiana sylvetris
  71. Artemesia absinthium
  72. Conium maculatum
  73. Rosmarinus officinalis
  74. Papaver somniferum
  75. Hyoscyamis niger
  76. Nepta faassenii ‘Six Hills Giant’
  77. Menta pulegium
  78. Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gelber Herold’
  79. Verbascum olympicum

Plants Under Cloches:

  1. Cannabis sativa
  2. Catha edulis
  3. Erythroxylum coca
  4. Heracleum mantegazzianum
  5. Psilocybe semilanceata
  6. Strychnos nux-vomica

Solitary Plants:

  1. Euonymus Europeaus
  2. Nerium oleander
  3. Hippophae rhamnoides
  4. Ilex aquifolium ‘Alaska’
  5. Juniperus anagyroides
  6. Malus ‘John Downie’
  7. Mespilus germanica
  8. Salix alba ‘Liempde’
  9. Vitex-Agnus — castus

Hedges:

  1. Buxus sempervirens
  2. Hedera helix ‘Hibernica’

Climbers/Vines:

  1. Clematis vitalba

If you would like an idea of what the garden looks like close up and see some of the plants from the list, check out the video BBC posted in 2017 on BBC Earth Unplugged.

Location: The Alnwick Garden, The Gardeners Cottage, Greenwell Road, Alnwick, Northumberland, England.

You can view their website here for more details.

Notes: 

  1. was closed in 1950: Wikipedia. “The Alnwick Garden.” Last modified June 18, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Alnwick_Garden.
  2. 800,000 visitors: Lauren McMah, “Welcome to the Alnwick Poison Garden, where everything wants to kill you,” news.com.au, May 14, 2016, accessed August 12, 2018, https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-ideas/weird-and-wacky/welcome-to-the-alnwick-poison-garden-where-everything-wants-to-kill-you/news-story/ccc8673fe95c00b2f5a693640354d560.
  3. “Deadliest Garden in the World|Earth Unplugged,” YouTube video, 6:35, posted by BBC Earth Unplugged, September 29, 2017, accessed August 12, 2018,  https://youtu.be/2oCWAiqL0i0.
  4. All photos were supplied by Alnwick Castle.

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Erin Chapman

Erin is the owner of Morbid Planet and Morbid Shopping. She also is a writer and co-admin for Vamped.org., a vampire general interest online magazine.

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