Alnwick Garden, Northumberland

Alnwick Garden, Northumberland

I almost didn’t buy the combo ticket that would allow us to tour Alnwick Garden along with Alnwick Castle.  I thought that the castle would be more than enough to see, and reasoned that we have plenty of fancy gardens to see on this side of the Atlantic.  In fact, it was only an accident that I ordered the combination tickets when I made my online purchase.

However, that being said, it was a happy accident.  The Alnwick Garden was quite enchanting, and it ended up being one of my daughter’s favorite things we did on our trip.

The first thing you see when you enter through the main entrance is the aptly named The Grand Cascade.  It is big, it is loud, and it dominates the garden.

alnwick garden grand cascade fountain northumberland

Surrounding the Cascade fountain are tunnels of greenery which lead up to the top of the fountain.

Alnwick Garden tunnel northumberland

But the most famous feature at The Alnwick Garden is not the enormous cascade fountain, but its Poison Garden.  This garden can only be seen by guided tour, and is kept behind a set of locked gates.

Alnwick poison garden northumberland

Each of the nearly 100 plants behind these gates is poisonous in some form or another. The Duchess of Northumberland created the garden, in part, to educate the public about the dangers of illicit drugs.

The garden includes cannabis as well as other lesser known plants used to produce a high. One such plant is Angel’s Trumpet (brugmansia), which is stunning to look at but deadly to ingest.

Alnwick garden poison Angels Trumpet northumberland

Our guide told us of some unfortunate soul who drank a cup of Angel’s Trumpet tea and ended up cutting off his tongue and his penis.  Yikes.

Just as lovely, but also deadly, is the autumn crocus (colchicum autumnale).

Alnwick garden poison autumn crocus northumberland

Oddly enough, my favorite plant in the Poison Garden was the deadly nightshade (atropa belladonna).  I could certainly see how someone could be attracted to its shiny round black berries.

alnwick garden poison-deadly-nightshade northumberland

The rest of Alnwick Garden was just as entertaining as the Poison Garden.  We traveled through a bamboo labyrinth and stopped to smell the roses.

alnwick garden english-rose northumberland

When we visited, it was autumn and there weren’t as many flowers in bloom.  I can only imagine what a stunning place it must be in spring & summer!

Our last stop was the Serpent Garden, which consisted of many different water features. In some, the water slowly trickled.  In others, it shot straight up into the air.  But in all of them, it was absolutely mesmerizing.

alnwick garden serpent northumberland

Alnwick Garden offers something for nearly every age range to enjoy.  While adults stand and marvel at the Grand Cascade, for example, preschoolers can hop on a toy John Deere tractor and scoot around the graveled walkway. Overlooking a small pond, there is a cherry orchard full of wooden swings on which to rest – an ideal spot for young and old alike who may need a break from walking.  The Poison Garden will be of interest to even the most jaded teenager, and the Fairy Tale Adventure is sure to intrigue elementary aged children.

The Alnwick Garden is on Denwick Lane, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 1YU.  Telephone +44 (0)1665 511350. The Garden opens daily at 10:00 am.  Closing times vary by season, so call or check the web site when planning your visit.

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