Welcome to the world’s deadliest garden
Jane Percy became the Duchess of Northumberland in England following her brother-in-law’s unexpected passing. With this title she was given the responsibility of maintaining Alnick (pronounced AHN-ick) garden. While she did intend to transform it, she also wanted to set it apart from other gardens in the English countryside. What she did however, was completely unique. She created the world’s deadliest garden.
Inspired by her visit to the infamous Medici poison garden in Italy (where the wealthy Medici family brought about the deaths of their enemies by way of botanic poisons), she set about collecting poisonous plants. Within the collection are Castor bean used to produce kidney failure, laburnum for comas and frothing at the mouth and deadly nightshade which causes hallucinations before paralysis. As the head gardener Trevor Jones concisely puts it, “every plant here within the poison garden is poisonous and has the ability to kill you”.
The garden currently has some 115 plants on display and it is open for public tours. However, visitors are strictly prohibited from smelling, touching or tasting any plants. However, even with such restrictions seven visitors reportedly fainted from inhaling toxic fumes from the plants over a single summer. As is the case, even the gardeners have to take extra precautions while in the garden making sure they wear gloves, protective suits and even face shields.
No doubt it might not be everyone’s first place they will want to visit but it does provide something that you won’t find elsewhere. As the Duchess herself states, “One of the things I hate in this day and age is the standardisation of everything. I thought, ‘Let’s try and do something really different.”