Beautiful English garden guarded by iron gates where every plant could kill you

The Poison Garden in Northumberland has warnings not to touch or smell its flowers, with some visitors passing out from the fumes

The gates of The Poison Garden at Alnwick Garden, Northumberland
The gates of The Poison Garden at Alnwick Garden, Northumberland

A garden, lovingly dubbed ‘the world’s deadliest’ has become a tourist hotspot – but you can only visit with a guide.

The Poison Garden takes up just a small part of The Alnwick Garden in Northumberland. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in deadly potency.

The garden is hidden behind huge iron gates and a sign under a skull and cross bones that says ‘these plants can kill’.

Visitors to the garden, who must be escorted by a guide, are prohibited from smelling, touching or tasting any plants – with some unlucky tourists having fainted after inhaling the fumes while walking around.

Ricinus communis – one of the many deadly plants in the garden

The garden is home to around 100 ‘toxic, intoxicating, and narcotic’ plants. These include the pretty blue flowers monkshood that not only creates deadly berries, but also deadly leaves and stems.

Many of the plants, such as Laurel, produce cyanide, while giant hogweed is phototoxic, meaning it will burn skin and can give you blisters for up to seven years.

Like all open English gardens, The Poison Garden has to be maintained, meaning staff have to don hazmat suits just to tend to some of the more potent plants.

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Opening up this unusual garden was the brainchild of the Duchess of Northumberland, who wanted to steer away from the typical herb gardens and go for a poison garden instead.

Cannabis in a cage at the garden

Head gardener, Trevor Jones, said of the garden’s leafy residents: “They’re very common plants. In fact, a lot of them are what we call cottage garden plants and they’re grown in many people’s gardens but people don’t know how harmful they actually are.

“People are intrigued by poisonous plants and I’m often very worried when they come out because many of them will be growing these plants at home and they don’t realise the powerful impact plants can have on us as humans.”