The Potent Plant Garden, Patterned After Agatha Christie's Novels
"Poisonous plants used by some of Agatha Christie's most notorious villains have come together in a new garden at Torre Abbey in Torquay, Devon, where the crime writer spent much of her life."
"Head gardener Ali Marshall read more than 80 of Agatha Christie's novels and short stories to put together the garden. Among the plants she chose are Prunuscultivars, such as dwarf peaches and nectarines, whose fruit stones produce cyanide — the murder weapon in several novels including, of course, Sparkling Cyanide. Deadly nightshade, used by the murderer in The Caribbean Mystery is grown alongside aconite, responsible for poisoning several characters in 4.50 from Paddington."
" ' While this might sound extremely dangerous for staff and public alike we have been very careful in our choice of plants, substituting less potent garden cultivars where possible,'says Ali. 'This is a garden designed to entertain — not provide murderous opportunities!' "
"In addition to the central display, Ali has also concocted a horticultural whodunnit for visitors to solve. In the beds surrounding the poison garden she has planted a series of clues to the titles of four of Agatha Christie's short stories — a puzzle which, she says, has tested even the most avid of Christie's fans."
The Torrey Abbey Garden notes that, "In a final twist the potent plants are framed by flowerbed containing horticultural clues pointing to four of Agatha Christie's short stories."
Some of the 'potent' plants will be familiar, some not:
Aconite (monkshood) has as its symptoms when ingested: rapid onset of symptoms including stomach problems numbness and tingling. Death occurs within hours. AC: 4:50 From Paddington; They Do It With Mirrors
Aspirin (willow): Well-known headache remedy but toxic in large doses. Appears in many AC works, And Then There Were None; Dead Man's Folly
Belladonna (deadly nighshade). Ancient herbal remedy with unpleasant side effects: Hallucinations, delirium, convulsions. Used in traditional witchcraft. The Caribbean Mystery, The Big Four
Cyanide (prunus family). From the seeds of the prunus family. Potent and rapid, causing breathing difficulties, convulsions, and asphyxia. Sparkling Cyanide, The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side
Datura (thornapple). Taken by Native American Indians to communicate with spirits. Ingesting Datura causes hallucinations and insanity. Sleeping Murder, The Cretan Bull.
Ricin (castor oil plant). Slow acting poison from a popular bedding plant. Ricin causes violent stomach ache and kidney failure. The House of Lurking Death.
Gelsemium (yellow jasmine). A small does causes double vision, wellness and nervous system problems. A larger does equals death. The Big Four.
Hyoscyamine (henbane). Traditional herb of witchcraft. Causes stomach upset, excessive salivation, headaches and convulsions. A Pocketful of Rye
Morphine (poppy). Derived, like heroin, from the infamous Poppy, poisoned victims slip quickly into a lethal sleep. Hickory, Dickory Dock, Sad Cypress
Nicotine (nicotania). Highly toxic and easily absorbed, symptoms like vomiting and convulsions precede a quick death. Three Act Trilogy, A Pocketful of Rye
Oxalic Acid (oxalis). Found in many plants in small amounts. Concentrated it causes severe stomach upset, lethargy and death. Murder is Easy, Cards on the Table
Digitalis (foxglove). Effective treatment for heart problems, toxic doses lead to visual disturbances and death. Appointment With Death, Crooked House
Taxine (yew). The symptoms of taxine poison include severe stomach inflammation and pain. Death is from heart failure. A Pocketful of Rye
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