The Poison Garden

The Alnwick Garden plays host to the small but deadly Poison Garden—filled exclusively with around 100 toxic, intoxicating, and narcotic plants. The boundaries of the Poison Garden are kept behind black iron gates, only open on guided tours.

Her Grace The Duchess of Northumberland and The Poison Garden (2021-02-25)The Alnwick Garden

The World-famous Poison Garden

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

Ian takes a tour of The Poison Garden with Poison Garden guide, John Knox. Scroll down to hear all about what's in store behind the mysterious gates...

The Alnwick GardenThe Alnwick Garden

John Knox 1

What is The Poison Garden?

The Poison Garden is a collection of plants, all of which are poisonous.

80% of all plants have poison in them, but here 100% are poisonous plants, which is why we have to have certain rules like no touching, no tasting and no smelling at certain times of the year.

The Poison Garden with visitors (2020-05-02)The Alnwick Garden

John Knox 2

How many plants do you have?

There are about 100 plants in The Poison Garden

The Poison Garden with visitors (2020-05-02)The Alnwick Garden

John Knox 3

What is the most poisonous plant you have?

Tobacco.  This surprises a lot of people.  About 78,000 people die each year in the UK with many more living with debilitating smoking-related illnesses

The Poison Garden with visitors (2020-05-02)The Alnwick Garden

John Knox 4

Other than tobacco, which is the most surprising?

The one that surprise most people is nettles because they don't realise that the sting is a poison because it's something that they interact with on a daily basis.

The Poison Garden with visitors (2020-05-02)The Alnwick Garden

John Knox 5

(in)Famous poison killers

The tea-cup poisoner - Graham Young - from the 1960's/70's.

He started when he was 14 years old poisoning his mother and his sister with atropa belladonna squeezing the berries which are quite sweet into their tea.  He treated it as one big science experiment.

The Poison Garden with visitors (2020-05-02)The Alnwick Garden

John Knox 6

What do we achieve by showing these poison to people?

We educate them so that they know the dangers in their own garden, especially for children, but entertaining as well.

The Alnwick Garden (2021-01-05)The Alnwick Garden

John Knox 7

What is your one stand out poison plant?

Ricinus Communis, the caster bean plant.

There is enough poison in one bean to kill about 130 people and there is no antidote.

The Alnwick GardenThe Alnwick Garden

John Knox 8

What's the weirdest experience you have had here?

The amount of people that faint, for no reason whatsoever.  It's purely because the stories that we are telling them are so exciting.

Here are 8 poisonous plants that you maybe didn't know were poisonous.....

Hedra helixThe Alnwick Garden

The Irish Ivy Tunnel

Taxus baccataThe Alnwick Garden

The Irish Yew Tree

Juniperus communisThe Alnwick Garden


Rosmarinus officinalisThe Alnwick Garden


Rheum x hybridumThe Alnwick Garden


Urtica dioicaThe Alnwick Garden

Stinging Nettles

Salix albaThe Alnwick Garden

White Willow

Laburnum anagyroidesThe Alnwick Garden


And here are some more that you probably did....

Atropa BelladonnaThe Alnwick Garden

Deadly Nightshade

Catha edulisThe Alnwick Garden


Conium maculatumThe Alnwick Garden

Poison Hemlock

Nicotiana sylvestrisThe Alnwick Garden


Cannabis sativaThe Alnwick Garden


The Poison Garden of AlnwickThe Alnwick Garden

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
UK Gardens
From the smallest window box to the largest country estate
View theme
Google apps