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From the front door of the glass-walled gift shop at the Alnwick Garden in the far northeast of England, the scene looks innocent enough. A sapphire green English lawn slopes gently downward, toward traditional, ornamental gardens of rose and bamboo. Across the small valley, water cascades down a terraced fountain.

But a hundred or so plantings kept behind bars in this castle’s garden are more menacing — and have much to tell visitors about poison and the evolutionary roots of medicine.

“These Plants Can Kill” warn two signs on a locked, iron gate that’s also marked with a skull and crossbones.

The Duchess of Northumberland (aka Jane Percy) started the Poison Garden in 2005 as part of the 12-acre, elaborate garden on the grounds of her family’s home, Alnwick Castle.

Many of England’s cities and towns have apothecary gardens — historical plots containing plants turned into treatments centuries ago by doctors, herbalists, religious folks and shamans. Most such gardens exist today to teach visitors about the history of medicine.

Welcome To The Poison Garden: Medicine’s Medieval Roots

Photos: Joanne Silberner for NPR

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list of random spirits encountered:

- a spirit haunting a lamppost on 3rd street. it asks for the umbrella of anyone passing by in exchange for a temporary alteration in reality

- a spirit haunting people with burdens on their mind. manifests as a pair of wings on their shoulders

instagram

natgeo On assignment with @daviddoubilet // Photographing an American crocodile at night in the mangroves of Gardens of the Queen National Park, Cuba. This crocodile rested in the soft seagrass for several minutes and then rose slowly to take a breath of air and return to the bottom to sleep again. Crocodiles are called the engineers of the mangroves because their movements increase circulation of water and nutrients through the dense root systems of the mangroves. Gardens of the Queen Marine Preserve, located fifty miles south of Cuba, is a time capsule in the Caribbean that looks much like it did when Columbus arrived and named it in honor of his Queen. From @natgeo story Underwater Jewels in the Path of Tourism with team @jenniferhayesig and #LeandroBlanco

his beauty is a garden, full of life and colors and nature’s palette.
his mind is a maze, made of hedges and old stone walls and fountains that bring relief and confusion.
his touch is the trees, their long braches caressing your face and leaving scratches that bleed and burn and attract vultures.
his entity is nature, he is the growth and death and beauty covered in thorns, he is the petals that soothe and allergies that chase many off and the leaves that bring beauty even in death.
—  nature’s boy//e.g.