This secret English garden houses 100 poisonous plants that have made visitors pass out

A stunning botanical garden famous for its beautiful floral displays is housing a macabre secret.

Past the meandering walkways and colourful blooms The Alnwick Garden has a garden that’s fenced off and barricaded away – and only accessible by appointment.

Tucked away behind huge black iron gates  and under lock and key lies some of the most deadliest species of plants known to mankind.

Aptly dubbed the Poison Garden, it boasts some of the most beautiful but most lethal flowers on the planet – and can even cause people to pass out if they get too close.

Filled with around 100 toxic and narcotic plants, the most dangerous are kept in cages to keep those touring the garden safe from harm.

a sign over a metal fence: The gates bear a stark warning to visitors

© Steve F | Wikimedia
The gates bear a stark warning to visitors

A warning on the Alnwick Garden website states: “Visitors are strictly prohibited from smelling, touching, or tasting any plants, although some people still occasionally faint from inhaling toxic fumes while walking in the garden.

“A combination of dark, ivy-covered tunnels and flame-shaped beds creates an educational garden full of interest and intrigue, where the most dangerous plants are kept within giant cages.”

Speaking during a virtual tour, Trevor Jones, head gardener, described the dangers of the plants housed in the Poison Garden. He said: “Datura will put you to sleep, forever.”

“Aconitine will kill you.

“Laurel will produce cyanide… and we all know what that does to you.”

“Atropa Belladona – just four berries are enough to kill a child.

“Every plant here in the garden is poisonous and has the ability to kill you.

Describing some of the other inhabitants of the garden, he added: “Giant hogweed will get up to around about eight foot high and it’s phytotoxic – so it will burn your skin and give you blisters for up to seven years.

“Aconitine, or monkshood, has wonderful blue flowers, but the whole of the plant is poisonous.

“The berries, crushed up and fed to you, will kill you.

“The leaves themselves will kill you also, as will the root and stem.”

a vase filled with purple flowers: Beautiful but deadly - Monkshood flower species Aconitum napellus

© Shared Content Unit
Beautiful but deadly – Monkshood flower species Aconitum napellus

The plant is so dangerous, that in 2010 Aconitine seeds – also known as the Queen of Poisons – were used by a spurned woman to poison her lover after he married someone else.

While another plant growing in the dark garden, Angel’s Trumpet, causes confusion, delirium followed by hallucinations, drowsiness and coma when ingested.

And if the seed coat of the resident Ricinus Cominis injected or inhaled it causes all internal organs to shut down resulting in death within six days.

Despite the dangers, the garden has to be maintained, and the gardeners have a strict protocol in place to manage the macabre patch – which involves covering their skin when tending to the plants.

a garden with water in the background: Some of the deadliest plants are in cages

© Humphrey Bolton |
Some of the deadliest plants are in cages

The garden itself is set in the old walled garden of the former castle at the site.  It was originally planted by the Duchess of Northumberland as a more interesting alternative to a traditional herb garden.

Trevor added: “A lot of them are grown in many peoples gardens, but people don’t know how harmful they actually are.”

The Alnwick Garden is open from September 7 to November 15 from 10am to 4pm daily.

Tickets for adults cost £14.30 with gift aid and children over four cost £5.50.

Children under 4 are free and family tickets are £36.30.

Entrance is strictly by ticket only and you can book the guided tour online at the Alnwick Gardens website.

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