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  • Sometimes I go to a place and I tell stories.

  • But occasionally, I go somewhere and find not just stories

  • but a really good storyteller.

  • In the grounds of Alnwick Castle, in the north of England,

  • is Alnwick Garden.

  • It's not quite as old as the castle,

  • that's been here about 900 years or so,

  • but it is just as impressive.

  • Inside is one of the world's largest wooden treehouses,

  • beautiful water features and also... this.

  • The slightly less conventional Alnwick Poison Garden.

  • Welcome to the Poison Garden.

  • All the plants in here have the ability to kill you,

  • so you're not allowed to touch or smell or stand too close to them.

  • This is Ricinus communis

  • and you can see that it has very architectural leaves,

  • but the issue with it is

  • that you can, under laboratory environments, take out ricin.

  • Ricin is the deadliest poison known to man.

  • Here we have Atropa belladonna, deadly nightshade,

  • a native plant to the UK.

  • These flowers that you can see here

  • will produce a black grape-like berry.

  • Four of those berries are enough to kill a child.

  • Very toxic indeed.

  • In Italy, especially around Venice,

  • the ladies used to squeeze the berries to get the juice

  • and then use the juice to put in their eyes

  • to dilate their pupils to make them look more attractive to gentlemen.

  • Because it's toxic, slowly you start to lose your vision.

  • What you do for vanity.

  • Ruta graveolens, again, a very common plant

  • that you can actually buy from garden centres, yet it is phototoxic

  • which means that if you get the sap onto your hands,

  • then in bright sunlight your skin will start to blister.

  • Once that chemical is in your system,

  • it will stay in that system for up to seven years.

  • Now, we had a senior gardener who came into the Poison Garden

  • and happened to see a weed growing out of this plant,

  • so without putting her gloves on she took the weed out.

  • Within an hour, she started to form blisters on her hand

  • and she ended up with third degree burns.

  • This plant is called Aconitum napellus.

  • It's very common.

  • It's often called monkshood.

  • The whole of the plant is very toxic.

  • Two years ago, there was a head gardener down in Surrey

  • who unfortunately was working with this plant

  • and he died a few days later,

  • and they put that down to the toxins from the plant.

  • Here we have a very common plant again.

  • This is laurel, used often as hedging.

  • The issue with laurel is that it will produce cyanide

  • and in fact, Victorians used to use leaves of these plants.

  • Cut in two, popped in a jam-jar with the butterflies that they'd captured,

  • screw on the lid and the butterfly would die naturally

  • because of the cyanide poisoning.

  • Now, this plant you can buy from garden centres,

  • a very common pot plant, it's called Brugmansia

  • and the whole of the plant is toxic.

  • It's often called the Angel's Trumpet.

  • It's an hallucinogenic plant so you can use it in all sorts of ways.

  • In fact, Victorian ladies would grow the Brugmansia on their tea tables

  • and then invite ladies around for afternoon tea.

  • What they would then do is in the tea pot,

  • shake some of the pollen which would go into the tea

  • and then the ladies would to start to loosen their tongue slightly

  • and talk about all sorts of nonsense.

  • We have a licence from the Home Office to grow cannabis.

  • So we have it here in a cage.

  • Obviously, it's a Class C drug.

  • We use this plant to start to introduce to children

  • all about the harmful effects of drugs.

  • This is Henbane.

  • It produces very peculiar flowers

  • that give off a very pungent scent.

  • The scent is so strong that often here we get people collapsing,

  • that's why we've got the bench next to the wall.

  • Mandragora, or Mandrake as it's commonly known,

  • a very popular plant now because of the Harry Potter phenomenon.

  • The whole of the plant is poisonous.

  • Historically, people used to think that there was a live little man

  • underneath the plant, because if you dug the plant up,

  • the actual tap root would often have two little legs and a little arm

  • and so people imagined that it was the devil himself.

  • Often people said they could hear the plant screaming as it was pulled up,

  • and so a lot of myth and legend grew up around the Mandrake.

  • The Duchess of Northumberland is the inspiration of the whole of this garden.

  • When she became Duchess, she had a vision

  • to create a modern, contemporary garden that would educate visitors.

  • So the Duchess then realised: children especially don't want to listen

  • to talks on herb gardens because they switch off.

  • If you can tell them that the plants are actually poisonous

  • and have the ability to kill you,

  • then you have the imagination of that child.

  • Thank you very much to all the team at Alnwick Garden, and to Trevor in particular!

  • If you want to know more about the gardens or the castle,

  • pull down the description.

Sometimes I go to a place and I tell stories.

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アルニックのポイズンガーデン (The Poison Garden of Alnwick)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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