Tuesday 6 July 2010

Hotspur, the Duchess and The Poison Garden ...

A Poison Garden here in England? Is the present Hotspur’s Duchess replicating the medieval Medici dynasty with her desire for a poison garden, as they had done in the middle ages – I do not think so ... but she has incorporated such a protected space within the Alnwick Castle Gardens development.

The unexpected death of her brother-in-law in 1995 propelled the Duchess and her husband, the Duke, to the Dukedom; they moved into Alnwick Castle, the ancestral home, and set about restoring the magnificent Italianate Renaissance interior, before the Duchess turned her attention to the gardens, that had undergone several transformations over the centuries and were in a state of decay.

Alnwick Castle by Canaletto, circa 1750

This dynamic lady did not just want any old garden for the Castle grounds but a rebirth of the estates to better serve the public, the community as well as ensuring that the Percy ancestral name would continue on with this great refurbishment of the Castle and what has become a garden of breathtaking scope.

Where will you find one of the largest tree houses in the world (see below), a rose garden with more David Austen roses than David Austen (the rose man himself), gravity defying water sculptures and - through the Duchess’s personal vision – a cherry orchard with 300 “Prunus ‘taihaku’: the single biggest planting in the world, under-planted with thousands upon thousands of pink tulips called ‘The Mistress’”?

The Garden has allowed local businesses to flourish, while the cultural and educational roles have not been ignored in this socially deprived part of England, through growing schemes, nursery garden involvement, a gardeners’ forum, while using the Poison Garden to help educate about drug abuse and addiction problems.

As the Duchess says: “With children you have to engage them, I was difficult to educate but when something grabbed my attention, I was on to it”. The poison garden is the perfect paradigm: “If you come at them from the killing angle, then you have their full attention and you can work on the dangers of cannabis, for example”.*

The Cascade Garden

This lady with a thousand ideas before breakfast, this noblewoman gardener knew that a few centuries ago men like Gerard (1545 – 1612), Parkinson (1567 – 1650) and Culpeper (1616 – 1654) having grown distrustful of magic, learnt from experience and carefully controlled dosage - that even the most poisonous of plants could be used as cures.

Some plants poisonous in root and berry, others harmless in themselves, but with rank scent, sad colour or strange form and texture to excite the imagination ... captured the Duchess’s fancy ... and the creative juices flowed .. why not have a Poison Garden?

Did you know that Henbane (Stinking Nightshade) with its clammy haired leaves transfers its nauseous smell when touched – and that it belongs to the Nightshade family .. containing the potato, tomato, tobacco – and belladonna? There is kill and cure in that small list.

Black Henbane from Kohlers' Images

She did her research going to Italy to find out more about the medieval schools of poisoning, that the Medicis and the Borgias embraced so avidly in the Middle Ages .. visiting the poison garden in Padua, originally established by the Medicis.

The Orto Botanico in Padua still has a special collection of Medicinal and Poisonous plants: plants representing the original purpose of the Botanical Garden some five hundred years ago. Alnwick’s Poison Garden also has the didactic aim of providing scientific, medicinal, educative and social knowledge on the benefits, while explaining the dangers of dependency and effects of poisoning on the body and its organs, of numerous different plants.

The Botanical Garden of Padova (or Garden of the Simples) in a 16th century print; in the background, the Basilica of Sant'Antonio.

The Duchess in her introduction to The Alnwick Garden writes “I could feel its magic and appreciate its bones”: the Castle has been in existence for over 900 years, so there are some bones, no doubt. She envisaged a “public garden for the 21st century” ... the Duke donated £5million and 42 acres to the Alnwick Garden Trust.

The Trust brings in young offenders and excluded children encouraging them to gain confidence in engaging with the public through ticket checking and just making eye contact ... something so many find so difficult.
The Rose Garden full of over 3,000 David Austen roses ... all containing a fragrance of some sort ...

Thus once all the legal and regulatory hoops had been jumped through, the Poison Garden was added to the list of features contained within the estate; protected by high security fences, its wrought iron gates appropriately embellished with a skull and crossbones, is here to teach about the myths and legends, along with facts from science and history.

The Poison Garden is home to The Alnwick Garden’s drugs awareness activities programme held in consultation with the Drug Action Team. Specialist tours give school children the chance to learn more about the effects of drugs, and families can learn more together in an informal environment.

The garden also offers learning programmes, volunteering and many community activities ... there is a ‘Roots and Shoots’ programme where youngsters can learn about produce from the growing, picking and eating scheme .. and how many of us know that the taste of a strawberry fresh from the garden is completely different to that found in supermarkets: what a way to learn ... muddy hands, earthy smells and a taste or two at the end ..

My father and his brothers had been at school with the Percy family – those of Hotspur fame – and many years ago decided a trip up north would be interesting to see their ancestral pile: unfortunately the public were not allowed into the Castle ... so we could only view the ramparts from various angles .. and the weather was so hot, which made our break an absolute pleasure – as there is so much to see in the vicinity:

Castles galore, ‘The Cradle of Christianity: Lindisfarne (or Holy) Island with its Lindisfarne Gospels, a wonderful coastline guarded by the Cheviot Hills and northern Pennines containing a wealth of history and culture shaped by a past that was not always peaceful. The landscape is it is today has been formed over centuries from Iron Age hill forts to the legacy of the Romans, through the Middle Ages to the Victorian industrial age – and the evidence is everywhere to be seen and toured.

Bamburgh Castle

With the publicity surrounding this new garden and the recent publication of The Poison Diaries, with rights reserved for a film by the producer of Shrek – it seems that the scene is set for us to learn a great deal more about the Duchess and her vision. If you would like to turn a page or two in the Poison Diaries, go to explore and "My Poison Diary" and see the book’s plant characters that are morphing from their seeds ....

It would appear that the Duchess’s vision has ensured a renaissance that will secure the longevity of the Percy name for many years to come, much as Shakespeare has done with the dashing Hotspur when he made him the real hero of his Henry 1v, Part 1.

Title page of the first quarto (1598)

Since my earlier visit with my father, Northumberland is a place I have always wanted to return to ... and now seeing and reading more about this magnificent set of gardens, while knowing that there is so much more to be explored .. I believe I will be visiting the Castle to wander over ancient bones – see the ghost of Hotspur, perhaps bumping into the Duchess as she presides over her beloved 21st century project – will you join me?

Dear Mr Postman .. my mother watched a little Wimbledon, but as she still cannot hear I could not explain about all the excitement of a century of aces .. she is peaceful and is pleased to see me .. but returns to her sleep quite soon.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

* PS: I would have liked to have acknowledged Jane Wheatley's article from The Times, whereby I took this description, and from which the post emerged .. but as Rupert Murdoch has decided to charge - I cannot access the link: I have a newspaper version.


Anonymous said...

Interesting post Hilary. I'd never heard of the Poison Garden before today. Quite interesting to learn that it exists.

Like the picture of the tree house. How grand it would have been to have something like that as a kid. Would have thought I was a queen or a princess.

Hope you have a great week!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Suzanne .. many thanks for coming by .. wouldn't it have been wonderful to have a tree house - at all .. let alone like this .. I had one - but it was naked branches of a silver birch tree that swang in the wind ..

I too .. thought the poison garden was fascinating .. I think the film, book, merchandise etc .. will also make interesting marketing ..

You too - have fun and enjoy your summer days ... Hilary

Lori said...

Hi Hilary,
"This lady with a thousand ideas before breakfast," is an interesting way to describe her. I like it! My hubs is a plant molecular biologist and every now and then we'll be out and about and he'll point to a plant and say, "I can't believe they planted that there, it's poisonous when ingested."

This is fascinating, the Poison Garden. How interesting. The Cascade Garden is beautiful! I love gardens, Hilary. Thanks for writing about this and engaging my thoughts.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lori .. good to see you .. she's turned out to be an amazing woman, considering she wasn't ever expecting to be a) a Duchess, or b) a leading light in various ways .. so she is certainly interesting: The Times article is an interesting read .. and it's unfortunate that I can no longer link across there.

The poisonous plants .. I'd have loved to have written more about them .. - quite extraordinary the ways they were used in ancient times and how those traits are being therepeutically used today - and our medicine men are still testing and experimenting with all parts of different plants .. it must be quite fascinating to be with your hubs as he comments on various aspects!

Really good to know that I've engaged you and given you food (not plants!) for thought .. it was an interesting learning post again!

You too .. have a good week .. cheers from what I hope continues to be a sunny England .. Hilary

Patricia said...

I saw several castles in UK when on my trip last summer, but I am getting a much better feeling from your posts and descriptions than I did on the bus. I would have loved to have seen more gardens - I so love flowers and herbs.

We too send lots of our children to grow their own food and help out with gardens in the area especially those in need and often in trouble. I think being earthy is so healing.

I only have 17 roses to care for and that is overwhelming to me right now...can not imagine the care that garden must need.

Good news about your mother being comfortable.

Thinking of you

Anonymous said...

"Lady with a thousand ideas before breakfast" indeed! It seems she's an amazing woman, that's for sure. I love the whole idea of a Poison Garden to educate about different plants and their history. Bravo!

That tree house is a grand thing too. I think I would've loved sitting in there as a boy, reading my well worn copy of Comet in Moominland. Fabulous! :)

Karen Lange said...

Your posts are so rich in info and detail! I feel very educated by the time I am finished reading one. Thanks so much for taking the time to share this with us.

Joyce said...

Hi, Hilary! I always get to travel and learn new things by visiting your blog ;) Today I learned that we have such a thing as a poison garden, very rare indeed. I wonder if there are others like that somewhere else in the world.

Mason Canyon said...

This is quite interesting. A poison garden could be a big plus for mystery writers. I love the tree house. That would be a wonderful place to spend the day relaxing. Have a great week.

Thoughts in Progress

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Hilary--Wonderful post. I went to Alnwick a few years ago. The gardens are wonderful. My Dad and daughter thought the treehouse, with it's swinging bridge, was wonderful. They let me get to the middle and then began making it swing. (Not my favorite part of the trip.)

Wilma Ham said...

Plants are just amazing. Taken one way they are good, then prepared in other ways they are not.
I love the old stories about medicine people, they were so knowledgeable and so effective. I also liked how they took real interest in their 'patients' to know what to give, how much and they knew what was going on.
Now there is one pill for all and I somehow do not think much of that. What great initiatives are happening in that country of yours. Intriguing and all by the noble people?!
Much love to you and your Ma and I am pleased you have a bit of sun, enjoy it while you can. xox Wilma

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Patricia .. many thanks .. it’s always difficult the first visit .. and when we see more we know more – going on a bus trip makes life easy .. but there just is so much to see in each and every castle. The gardens of England too .. – it is great that they are finding the old gardens and bringing them back to life .. historical records of plants, architecture, landscaping etc

We were lucky we were brought up with fresh veg and herbs .. so digging the earth we know about .. and certainly the children from the towns love getting out into the community farms or plots .. and does open up new thoughts .. which can lead to healing, as you so rightly say.

17 roses – well that’s a great number .. they are lovely-giving flowers – bushes or ramblers .. I love them .. enjoy picking your blooms – wonderful scents .. Alnwick have lots of volunteers who help with the social programmes .. but would be a lovely place to volunteer wouldn’t it?!

Thanks about my mother .. it’s lovely seeing her peaceful – and thanks very much for your thoughts – you look after yourself – Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tony .. thank you .. the Poison Garden does seem to catch the imagination rather well .. and the ‘simplers’ of old left us a wonderful legacy to tap into .. which we can now do more easily with our more sophisticated methods of research.

Isn’t the tree house great .. and your book – I’ve never heard of .. but I see it’s a Swedish series .. were you in Australia reading it, or here in the UK .. or were you living and perhaps born in Sweden? It seems you could certainly lose yourself with the characters and being high in the canopy would be rather fun ...

Thank you – lovely to see you here .. Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Karen .. thank you .. there’s always so much information that I‘d love to put in .. sometimes it’s difficult to know when to stop – but I like the idea of readers being able to find out more, if they so wish, or to remember various stories or facts .. and the reward comes from the comments, so it’s great to see you here .. thank you.

Have a good rest of the week .. Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Joyce .. there’s certainly one in Padua .. but the plants are everywhere – it just may not be obvious .. because we tend to use and eat only what’s presented in the shops for us! I remember as a kid .. being told not to pick and eat various plants .. deadly nightshade being one, foxgloves, ivy, laburnum ..

Did you see Lori’s comment above .. about her husband commenting on a plant that if ingested makes you very ill .. that was planted out in a park ..

I expect the botanical gardens around the world will have special areas for some of their plants .. Good to see you and thanks for being here - Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mason .. when I was drafting the post and when I saw the Poison Diaries .. I thought of you – the authors of this world – and realised you’d be interested .. hence the link for the Poison Diaries.

As you say the tree house looks stunning .. and reading the Poison Diaries up in the tree house wondering if the seeds below will reach up with their tentacles, grab you and pull you out to join them in their earthy shenanigans .. could make some of our dreams a little uncomfortable!

Though you’re looking to read sensibly in the tree house I see – a good book with the fresh air blowing around and grand vistas to look at .. what a lovely idea!

You too – have a good week .. and thanks for the visit – Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sharon .. lucky you – so you know more about the Castle than I do, as you’ve visited. Swing bridges are quite daunting aren’t they! I bet they still laugh at you and the thought of you hanging on for dear life in the middle – it is certainly unsettling being on a swing bridge .. just glad that you all seemed to thoroughly enjoy the gardens .... now I must get to visit!

That’s lovely a family visit over here – I bet your Dad was chuffed to be with his family .. let alone the sharing experience your daughter will remember with her Grandpa –

So pleased you’ve been able to tell us briefly about your visit to the Gardens .. many thanks - Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Wilma .. you picked up on the good and the bad .. there was so much I wanted to share about the various plants .. but the Garden had so much to tell you about!

You’re right the medicine people did seem to spend a great deal of time with their patients, or returning to check on their condition .. constantly watching to see the effects etc – even then there were loads of unknown dangers, which weren’t understood.

As you say .. people are dependent on a pill to fix things – most people can’t seem to help themselves before resorting to the ‘magic dose’ ...

The Duke and Duchess seem to have the greater good of the community at heart – and you’re right people don’t realise that the wealthy landlords are extremely good managers and custodians of the land and its peoples. Some abuse I agree .. but in this day and age .. more and more are getting involved in any way they can.

It’s so interesting to see the creative forces coming to the fore – being in deprived inner city communities, or like the Totnes Transition Initiative, or the larger projects at Alnwick Castle, Kenilworth Castle – where they restored the Elizabethan (1500s) garden, or the Lost Gardens of Heligan, or the Eden Project .. and many more .. by peoples from all walks of life.

Thanks Wilma .. appreciate your thoughts re my mother and the warmth and sun has made all the difference – it was a bitter winter .. and yes I shall enjoy the rest of the summer! You too – hope your cold wet week starts to improve .. with thoughts xoxox Hilary

Marketing Unscrambled, Home edition said...

Hello Hilary,

What a great post. Thank you for letting us know of this wonderful garden. What an interesting Lady and her wonderful garden. Love the tree house. Now that is a great place.

Look at all your followers. They are really growing. It is nice to see. They love to learn from your great post as much as we do.

Have a great day. Give our best to your sweet mother. Hugs for her fans in the USA.

Dan and Deanna "Marketing Unscrambled"

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Dan and Deanna .. Thank you .. the Garden and the thought process just amazes me & I love the way the Duchess has just taken life by its horns and got on with things - to produce an amazing 21st century garden - it will bring people to the deprived North East ..

I know - aren't I lucky - having wonderful commenters and followers makes all the difference - long, long may it last! I'm really grateful to everyone for being so supportive as I blog away... it is great.

Thank you re my mother .. we plod on or sleep on is more appropriate - as long as she is comfortable and well cared for I can't ask for more in these difficult circumstances. All the best to you too .. Hilary

Paul C said...

What an interesting post and a delightful place to visit. This garden is a paradigm shift, focusing on death and not life. It also should engage children who learn about the poisons to avoid.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Paul .. thank you .. and if you're over .. add to your list?!

It is only one small part of the Gardens .. there are many other features .. but it certainly is making a statement and as you rightly say teach children which plants to avoid ..

I like the Paradigm shift behind the Skull and Crossbones ..

Thanks for the comment and coming by - Hilary

... Paige said...

very neat and i love it

one day who knows what poison will be able to do

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Paige .. plants have so much to offer - fortunately we're endeavouring to record our past and tap into our knowledgeable elders before they pass on .. so we don't lost essential knowledge.

Almost every plant that kills will also cure and be a potent aphrodisiac; it all depends on the dosage.

So we're learning what they all do .. good to see you .. thanks Hilary

Chase March said...

That treehouse is amazing. Wish I had one of those. I've never much wished to live in a castle though. Seems like it might be a bit creepy. However, it is good to see them restoring it. It's nice to keep the history alive.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chase ... it is isn't it .. especially for those of us who did not have one. I agree a castle could be hugely cold with those enormous stone rooms .. but amazing if one was a wealthy castle owner .. I don't think I'd mind being up there - though it is considerably colder!!

Yup - could be a few ghosts or two .. but you're not afraid of those are you??!!

It is good all the restoration that has come to the form in the last few years .. and it is great to know more about life in historical terms etc ..

Thanks for coming by .. Hilary

Mandy Allen said...

Hi Hilary, great post, as always! Every time I go to Scotland I think I will make time to stop in Northumberland - but of course I don't! This post has inspired me to DO IT next time and visit this fascinating place.

Enjoy the journey.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mandy .. that's great .. if I've inspired you to visit .. I really must get back sometime .. I have so many happy memories of that area .. with all its history ..

I'm a bit like you on my way to Cornwall .. Devon and Dorset and Somerset get missed out completely and north Cornwall too - but there's so much to see ..

So that will be excellent if you remember perhaps you'll come back and give us a real life comment?!

Have a good week - look like summer's still here - at least down here .. all the best - Hilary

Jannie Funster said...

Hello dear Hilary,

It certainly is good to know there are good security walls around the pison garden, and hopefully security guards at night.

Good for the youth to have the gardening opportunity. And to taste the strawberries fresh.

$5,000,000 pounds and 42 acres sounds like a mighty good donation.

A 900 year old castle would be very fun to live in I think! I'd give it a whirl.


Blue Bunny said...

oh my goodniss hilree, i just loves gardins wit roses, but maybe not so mutch poizin plants.

i haz a castil in my yard to play in.

and strawberries too, of korse.

i lieks this post a lot!

see yoo soon.


blue bunny

Davina said...

You are a fascinating blogger, Hilary. I must echo Karen by saying that there is so much detail and information in your posts. I never tire of your posts about castles. And that tree house! Only in my dreams could I have imagined something like that.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jannie .. – yes the Poison Garden has been given a licence by the Home Office .. so it is extremely well regulated .. and I guess is in the middle of the estate anyway .. with high security at all times.

Getting children involved in gardening and watching the plants grow and then taste them .. must engage them in the food process .. fresh strawberries, carrots, gooseberries, blackberries, peas, beans etc .. all absolutely delicious ..

The cost is a lot higher .. it’s £60 m (pounds – not dollars!) .. but the Duke’s contribution helped start the project up and it is now a Charitable Trust, raising funds, and works with various local organisations.

I suspect the Funster family would enjoy living in a whole castle & I can see you, Jim, Kelly, BB & Jasmine having lots of fun – but there’d be plenty of room for your blogging buddies too ...?!

Enjoy today and have fun .. is Kelly’s arm all sorted now? I must ask you over on your blog .. bye – Hilary xoxo

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi BB .. Plentis of rums here for u to plays in .. ze gardins look wunderfuls don’t theyz? Sum spezial creatures can eet things we peoples can’t eets .. but I’d rather U didn’t poison URzelf ..

Havs U a castil in ur yard to plays in? .. wiv Kelly .. dat must be fun .. wiv fresh strawbugs too .. U R a lucky bunny ..

Glads U lieks this post .. it waz interesting to rite .. see U soon .. happy days .. Hilree xoxox

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Davina .. that’s really kind – I’m just pleased you and others enjoy the blog – somewhat surprised, but really happy with the blog’s development etc and always grateful for the pertinent comments I receive .. the interest you take in the blog and the articles/stories.

I haven’t really started with castles .. and I promised more – Dutch ones for Wilma .. one day! Then there’s the European ones in different countries, let alone all of ours .. but Alnwick and the gardens deserved a post of its own I thought.

Isn’t the tree house special .. mind you Jannie’s ‘tree’ house is pretty extraordinary ..if I was a little girl again – I’d love to be in Funsterland??!! Dream on – for both of us I suspect .. perhaps we could start a trend of old age pensioner tree houses?

Enjoy today .. have fun - Hilary

Chris Edgar said...

Hi Hilary -- I can imagine you could launch, on the spur of the moment, into a history of Wimbledon, or what you lyrically called a "century of aces." Perhaps you'll lob that one our way next. :)

Jannie Funster said...

Oh yes, all blogging buddies are forevaer welcome at our humble castle.

At Kelly's school (I think I once sent you the link to it, right?) all the kids take part in planting and gardening there. Such a super place!

My goodness, how did I miss it being so large a sum donated? How generous and vital!

Happy day?

raining AGAIN here -- yay!

Kelly goes for her X-ray soon, hopefully will be cleared for gymnastics and martial arts again.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chris .. You’re right .. last year I did some Queens and Wimbledon posts .. two only! But I did think I’d do one on those century of Aces ..with a twist .. so I may well lob it your way!! Shortly. Good to see you here .. and always interesting to see what you’ve picked up on!

Have a good day and weekend to follow – we’re rather warm here .. now, even on the coast! have fun .. Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jannie .. – oh that’s great a blogging tent party a la Funster Castle! I suspect you don’t have huge halls, with Italianate interiors, dungeons with bars or just deep holes, the moat to jump over ..?

I’m not sure you did .. but I saw the picture of Kelly and her blocked out daisies .. the kids having fun at term end. Excellent that they all garden at the school and learn so much – you must be lucky to have such a good school nearby.

You didn’t miss it the £60m .. as I hadn’t actually put it in .. it’s a bit of a bone of contention .. as you can imagine as it’s public money .. but those were in the money overflow days, when it grew on trees!! But now the Garden is up and running and with the Trust in place, and the potential of the poison diaries a la Harry Potter .. I should think they’re on to a winner.

& it’s raining again with you .. down here in the south east they are desperate for rain .. and it’s very hot now – 6.00 am .. when I got up .. & there’s a hosepipe ban in the north west! No doubt it will bucket with rain soon!!

I was wondering about her arm .. let’s hope the Xray clears it all up – hope so .. have a great weekend .. even in the rain .. send it over here!! xoxoxox

Will Burke said...

It would be a lot of fun to stroll through an estate with that mush history. It's fascinating that they're using it to teach young offenders to engage the public!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Will .. it'd be an excellent place for Calli to have a good run around in .. and you and Andrea inspect the ramparts, and the gardens ..

I thought the drug awareness connection was a good one .. especially the eye contact element - which of course is so true for many who need help.

Thanks for coming by and having a stroll through the park .. enjoy the weekend .. Hilary

Anonymous said...

I have to say this is one of the more interesting blogs I have read in a while. Amazing how plants can be used as a cure or to kill people. Speaking of killing, what a novel concept to place into a book. I have a Killing Room in Breakthrough. I also have a book outline that would be perfect to use a Killing Garden. Very cool. Have a great weekend.

Stephen Tremp

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Stephen .. many thanks - much appreciated.

I too like the connection with the Simplers of old (hedgerow samplers)and today's investigative processes into all the parts of the plant ..

The Poison Diaries .. have a few interesting ideas in there .. though it's only in a rough format .. but the characters are there for all to see - well some of them!

A Killing Room - they don't even get to go through a wormhole to die?!

A Killing Garden .. most gardens are killing gardens .. with the plants that we let grow within our grounds, hedges etc ..

Glad you liked it - many thanks .. yes - a cool weekend would be nice .. it is very hot by the sea and that is unusual! Isn't it funny how as soon as it's hot we want it cool and wet! .. Contrary humans ..

Good to see you - thanks Hilary

Cath Lawson said...

Hi Hilary - You can count me in for a trip to the gardens. I didn't know about the poison garden but I took the kids to Alnwick Castle a few years ago and we didn't get time to see the gardens. Now I'm reading this and kicking myself. So, please let me know when you're planning to visit.

I haven't been to Lindisfarne either but I'd love to go.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Cath .. I know you've posted .. I guess it's Friday .. and even the lines get busy?!

I wonder if the garden simply wasn't open then - but if you missed the gardens as a whole .. it would be great to meet up with you up there .. and have a natter, chat, gossip and view the magnificent setting .. once my Ma has crossed her rainbow bridge .. and after today I wonder when that will be .. I'll probably post on it .. my experiences as of today ..

This comment reply should occur after your post - it's just not occurring now .. strange ways of blogger ..

but I've moved to Google Chrome ..

enough for now .. see you soon .. and perhaps for a good meet up next year - that'd be fun ..

Go well .. and have a ?wet or boiling weekend .. like we're having down here .. happy days and weekend .. Hilary

Vered said...

The Poison Garden... the name itself is magical!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Vered .. great to see you - and your words convey all .. enough said!

Lots of thoughts there .. magical and poison .. and a garden full of plants .. weaving stories around them ..

Enjoy the weekend .. Thank you - Hilary

Liara Covert said...

The poison garden sounds like a relative of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Infinite enchanted places exist and are found as they enter one's scope of awareness. This intriguing place likely has relatives near Hogwort's School of Magic and Mystery Schools. Anyone fascinated with the ideas explored in this real garden or the story (& soon 2be film) would likely be entranced by the many Brother Cadfael mysteries by author Ellis Peters. The protagonist in these crime stories is a 14th century monk and master gardener who is well-versed in the apothecary field.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liara .. I'm sure there must be idea links across to The Secret garden, and Hogwort's school .. and as you remind me Brother Cadfael .. with his wonderful knowledge. I must read them again .. they were a fun read at the time - but now would be more informative and I'd appreciate them more.

At Alnwick they've obviously got a pretty secure corner for the plants to grow .. and to aspire to escape and spread their goodness and their evil .. the book and film will certainly be interesting ..

Have a wonderful Sunday .. Hilary

Joanne said...

How wonderful that the Duchess decided to restore those magnificent gardens! They are so beneficial in so many ways, thanks to her insights. I'm a walker, and doesn't that look like the perfect place to explore. Okay, especially that treehouse!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Joanne .. thanks for coming by .. it certainly looks a wonderful place & I must visit soon .. and as you so rightly say the gardens are benefiting so, so many .. from all walks of life.

It would be great to explore these gardens and many others in England - we could keep you happy for months!! Then a rest and a Gin and Tonic - or your tipple of choice in the tree house as the sun went down ..

Too gorgeous to think about - and on a hot sunny day like today - just bliss ..

Many thanks for the visit - see you soon .. Hilary

Sibyl - alternaview said...

Hillary: I always enjoy reading your posts and learn so much. I had never heard of the Poison Garden, but from your description it sounds amazing. That is some tree house. I really think it is so wonderful when you can see people's thoughtfulness expressed in gardens and other places that they build for people to enjoy. It seems that the Poison Garden really is a place where people can have great experiences and appreciate the beauty of nature ... there is nothing better. Thanks for sharing.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sibyl .. thank you! I suspect you'll be hearing about the Poison Garden through the Poison Diaries fairly soon - another Harry Potter type block buster I suspect.

Wouldn't it be lovely to be able to be creative with a large garden .. but I think this one would be difficult to beat?!

It's the Rose Garden and the Cherry Orchard underpinned with tulips - that must be magnificent to see .. absolutely stunningly beautiful.

Just wonderful to see you here .. Hilary

Cath Lawson said...

Hi Hilary - we just didn't get the time to see the gardens as a whole, after the castles. Next year sounds good - it would be great to meet up. Eventually I'm hoping to get to meet all my blogging friends in the flesh.

I was reading what Liara said about the Secret Garden. I loved that book and the TV series and it is also the image that came to my mind when you mentioned the Poison Garden.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Cath .. it definitely sounds an excellent idea to meet up .. and I agree with you - it'd be great to meet up with everyone .. it would be such fun & just add that extra special dimension as we watch each other grow and develop.

Yes - Liara .. reminded me before about Brother Cadfael .. and I must get his books and reread them with more intelligence this time!

Novellists or story tellers put so much research and knowledge into their books .. and I'm sure the same will apply to the Poison Garden Diaries and spin offs ....

thanks for coming back .. and see you next year?! Have a good week .. Hilary

J.D. Meier said...

Tree-houses, castles, and poison gardens ... and a picture of skull-and-cross-bones makes it perfect!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi JD .. you've summed it up .. the Gardens are magnificent with these plants and their hidden secrets within the acreage of the castle grounds ..

Skull and Cross bones - I'm glad I could get the picture of the gate up ..

Thank you - have a good week .. Hilary