The Alnwick Garden is one of north England’s most beautiful attractions, where acres of colorful plants invite visitors to wander through rows of fragrant roses, manicured topiaries and cascading fountains. But within Alnwick’s boundaries, kept behind black iron gates, is a place where visitors are explicitly told not to stop and smell the flowers: the Poison Garden, home to 100 infamous killers. The garden was created in 2005 when Jane Percy, the Duchess of Northumberland, wanted to show people the scariest plants around.
“I wondered why so many gardens around the world focused on the healing power of plants rather than their ability to kill,” the Duchess said. “I felt that most children I knew would be more interested in hearing how a plant killed, how long it would take you to die if you ate it, and how gruesome and painful the death might be.”
Locked behind black steel doors in Northumberland England, the Poison Garden at Alnwick Castle grows around 100 infamous killers. From deadly nightshade to hemlock, the only way a plant can take root in this garden is if it is lethal to humans. Created by the Duchess of Northumberland, this is one garden where you won’t want to stop and smell the flowers. Many of the plants that grow in the Poison Garden have to be approved, with special permission from the government, to be grown. Plants like opium poppies, magic mushrooms, and cannabis, to name a few.
Today, the gardens encompass 14 acres and attract over 600,000 visitors each year, making them one of North England’s most popular tourist attractions. Because of the plants’ dangerous qualities, visitors to the Poison Garden are prohibited from smelling, touching or tasting any of them. Still, even with guidelines in place, visitors can fall victim to the plants. This past summer, seven people reportedly fainted from inhaling toxic fumes while walking through the garden.
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