The Poison Garden

northumberland_alnwick.jpgThe San Francisco Garden Show is being held and two traditions continue. The garden show is one, the other is my non-appearance. I remember the garden show when it was held at Fort Mason, before the Cow Palace. I never made it since it's held in spring and thats when we are the busiest. Some of my customers show pity and bring me photos, or I can head over to Jasmines Blog and read about it there.

I would have loved to met Jane, the Duchess of Northumberlund. She was there to promote her book, The Poison Diaries. The book is about poison plants which sound interesting but what really interested me was her Poison Garden, located at the families castle in Northumberland. The castle is where Harry Potter was filmed! Alnwick Garden's, opened in 2002 contains a section known as The Poison Garden. It contains such plants as strychnine, cannabis, devil's eye, stinking nightshade and mandrake which - legend has it - because its fleshy root resemble a man, emits an ear-piercing scream when pulled up, and begins to sweat blood. When you tour the gardens you are escorted by garden marshals since some of the plants are quite dangerous to those not in the know. Very Cool.

I had never heard of these gardens but the post at Jasmines Blog had a picture of the Duchess signing books, and she seemed so young, petite, and accessible. Not quite what I picture a Duchess to be. Besides anyone who would plant a poison garden gets my interest right away. She uses the garden to help teach children about the affects of drug addiction. Actors portray drug addicts throughout the garden and after the tour, children see a musical presentation focused on drug education and resistance. What a fantastic idea. Usually the effects of various drugs, good and bad, and where they are from is clouded in mystery and prefaced with, “stay away”. Well , you know what that means. Children are a curious lot and I think seeing these plants, especially at the place where “Harry Potter” was filmed is quite an education. Heck, I would take the tour in a heartbeat.