Duchess's garden of cannabis,cocaine and opium
By Alan Hamilton
ALREADY famous for her ornamental plantings, superlative roses and spectacular spending, the Duchess of Northumberland has won permission to grow drugs in her garden at Alnwick Castle.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in the North East is set to become an even bigger magnet for curious visitors next spring when they will be able to admire — but not pick — specimens of cannabis, opium poppies, magic mushrooms, tobacco and the coca plant, the source of cocaine.
The Home Office has approved a licence for the Duchess and the trust which runs the 40 acres of gardens at the border castle, on the grounds that the plants will be exhibited strictly for educational purposes. They will take their place alongside 50 other dangerous plants in what will be Britain’s largest public poison garden.
Peter Wirtz, a Belgian responsible for designing Alnwick’s classical water cascade, has also created the Poison Garden.
Some other specimens he has planted include the poisonous foxglove and wild lettuce, which can be used as a tranquiliser. Although almost complete and ready to open within weeks, the garden will not achieve full glorious bloom until winter is over. Any temptation to harvest the hallucinogens will be curbed by marshals who will escort all visitors through the patch of poisons.
The Duchess, who created the modern garden and is now a member of the trust that runs it, said yesterday: “The garden is more than the development of a beautiful place or a regenerative tourism venue.
“Drugs are a major concern across the country and an emotive issue. The Poison Garden will offer a new avenue, outside the classroom, to get people talking about the misuse of drugs, most of which grow in nature. I am interested in the power of plants and how they have been used not only to cure but to poison and kill.”