Poison Garden

Treehugger readers have asked for tips and sources of hints on gardening, but in this case, we must give a disclaimer and not encourage you to follow the lead of the Duchess of Northumberland. Certainly you have already identified from the picture that her garden includes the relatives of oft-lauded hemp, upon which plants we will remain your objective reporter and decline all judgement. But as you may have guessed from the rosy-cheeked Constable peeking around the other side of the Duchess' marijuana, this garden is officially approved. The newest addition to the Alnwick Garden in the UK features some very interesting biodiversity.The garden had to get special permission to grow cannabis and cocaine, and will use the exhibit to move beyond the "just say no" strategy into an open dialogue about drugs and their effects in an enjoyable environment, taking it out of the pedagogic atmosphere of the public schools. The garden will also display opium poppies, magic mushrooms and tobacco.

The poison garden is the first public garden of its type in the UK, but follows a centuries old tradition of botanical interest in poisonous and toxic plants. The Duchess was inspired by the (now somewhat run-down) garden near Padua, Italy which was once used by the Medici's to find better ways to kill their enemies. In this vein, the garden displays deadly nightshade (belladonna), strychnine, henbane (which Claudius poured into Hamlet's father's ear to kill him) and hemlock (used to kill Socrates).

A most interesting article, with statements by the Duchess of Northumerland on her intentions with the garden as well as more interesting historical facts about poisons can be found at Lady. To learn more about other attractions at Alnwick Garden, click Alnwick.