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When Trevor Jones is all dressed for work in a face shield, gloves and protective bodysuit, he looks like he is about to enter the decontamination zone of a nuclear power plant. But Jones spends his days tending a garden—a deadly garden, maybe the most dangerous garden in the world. This is the Poison Garden, and it’s a part of the grounds at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England.
The carefully-tended green appears as though it has existed for ages, but the Poison Garden only opened in 2005 as a part of an extensive garden refurbishment project led by Jane Percy, the Duchess of Northumberland, who wanted to introduce visitors to the scariest plants of the botanical world.
When you visit the garden, where Jones reigns as head gardener, you are urgently advised to look all you want, but to not touch or smell anything. Every single plant on the property is poisonous and has the potential to kill you. That really can’t be stressed enough. And while you might assume that this haven of danger is populated by exotic, uncommon plants, what’s unnerving is that the Poison Garden is full of plants found in many backyards.
Let us introduce you to some of the killer greenery. First up, meet giant hogweed. This plant can grow as high as eight feet tall. If you touch it, you will set off a phototoxic reaction that would burn your skin, with blisters that could last for up to seven years. Aconitum, also known as monkshood, has pretty blue flowers, sure, but if you were to eat any of this plant’s berries, you will die. The leaves will kill you, too. So will the roots and the stems. Laurel produces deadly cyanide. And, as Jones points out, we all know what that will do to you.
In all, there are close to 100 different kinds of bad news plants in The Poison Garden, and Jones is always cultivating lethal new additions.
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