THE POISON GARDEN website      Arum maculatum berries on a Cannabis leaf 


This free script provided by JavaScript Kit

Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

October 2012

Current Entries


Previous Entries

November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011

Wednesday 24th October 2012

‘The poison is in the dose’ is a central theme of much of what I write and say about poisons. Poor media coverage of both poisons and psychoactive substances is another. When the two came together, recently, it set me thinking about a potential side effect of an end to drug prohibition.

The substance of interest is one that most people do not think of as a concern, much less as a potentially lethal poison; caffeine. Billions of people consume caffeine every day and only a very few of them ever consider that this is an addictive substance with a well-defined fatal dose...more

Monday 22nd October 2012

Sometimes, when I’m giving one of my talks, the subject of poisons in fiction will come up. It may be a question or it could be someone quoting an example of how one of the plants I’ve been speaking about has been used by an author.

I usually try and move on quite quickly because, for the most part, the way poisons are dealt with in fiction leaves a great deal to be desired. Though I haven’t researched the topic so can’t pretend to offer an exhaustive list, I’ve only come across three writers who deal with poisons reasonably truthfully. I wrote about those three - Shakespeare, Agatha Christie and Val McDermid – last August...more

Saturday 20th October 2012

I’ve been watching the latest incarnation of BBC TV’s ‘Something Farm’ franchise. We’ve had ‘Victorian Farm’ and ‘Edwardian Farm’ and the current series is ‘Wartime Farm’. There have been some changes in format for this in that, instead of the three presenters going through a single year for the time concerned, each programme looks at one year in the sequence 1939-1945 to see how the progress of World War II affected the demands made on farmers.

Another change is that the net is being cast a little further to bring in issues related to food during wartime that are not directly relevant to a small English farm. The latest edition looked at the situation for civilians in Germany from 1944 once Germany began to lose the war and supplies became difficult to obtain...more

Tuesday 16th October 2012

The usefulness of Google Alerts is, of course, related to the search term used. I have a friend who is involved in the supply of frames combined with glazing for insertion in the external walls of buildings. I wrote it that way to show that whilst ‘windows’ is, plainly, not a useful term for a Google Alert finding an alternative that will produce helpful results is not that easy.

In my sphere of interest, the alert that produces the least relevant results is for ‘laburnum’. Almost every result, and there are several each day, is about a property for sale on Laburnum something. I find it curious that a plant causing a hysterical reaction from many people who misunderstand the difference between poisonous and harmful should be seen by so many as the ideal name for a residential area...more

Monday 8th October 2012

Some years ago, during a residential training course, I picked up a book about wild flower identification. In the introduction, the author said he had decided to write the plant equivalent of the books that tell you how to identify birds. He then said that plant identification was much harder than birds because there were only 50 or so species of bird to learn whereas there are hundreds of wild plants.

The flaw in that argument was immediately apparent; wild plants don’t fly off into the nearest tree as soon as you get close enough for a good look and birds don’t allow you to pull bits off to take home and compare with the pictures in your books or online...more

5th October 2012

Sometimes, the absent is as interesting as the present. I’ve written a number of times, this summer, about the proliferation of Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed, in Edinburgh and the mostly hysterical reactions to Jacobaea vulgaris (syn. Senecio jacobaea), common ragwort. So many times, in fact, that I’ll leave you to go to the plant pages and follow the links back to the blog rather than list them all, again.

It struck me a couple of days ago, however, that there is one plant I would have expected to write about in the summer but have not...more


Full Entries


Tuesday 25th October 2016
Saturday 20th August 2016
Sunday 6th March 2016
Wednesday 3rd February 2016


Saturday 28th November 2015
Friday 27th November 2015
Monday 17th August 2015
Wednesday 15th July 2015
Friday 26th June 2015
Thursday 25th June 2015
Thursday 30th April 2015
Wednesday 29th April 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Tuesday 3rd March 2015
Saturday 28th February 2015
Sunday 22nd February 2015

November 2014

Monday 24th November 2014
Saturday 8th November 2014

October 2014

September 2014

Wednesday 24th September 2014
Monday 1st September 2014

August 2014

Tuesday 26th August 2014
Saturday 16th August 2014
Tuesday 5th August 2014
Friday 1st August 2014

July 2014

Sunday 27th July 2014
Wednesday 23rd July 2014
Sunday 13th July 2014
Sunday 6th July 2014
Tuesday 1st July 2014

June 2014

Wednesday 25th June 2014
Tuesday 24th June 2014
Sunday 22nd June 2014
Monday 9th June 2014
Wednesday 4th June 2014

May 2014

Monday 26th May 2014
Sunday 18th May 2014
Wednesday 14th May 2014

April 2014

Sunday 13th April 2014
Saturday 5th April 2014
Thursday 3rd April 2014
Tuesday 1st April 2014

March 2014

Monday 31st March 2014
Tuesday 25th March 2014
Friday 21st March 2014
Monday 17th March 2014
Sunday 16th March 2014
Tuesday 11th March 2014
Tuesday 11th March 2014
Thursday 6th March 2014
Wednesday 5th March 2014
Saturday 1st March 2014

February 2014

Thursday 27th February 2014
Monday 24th February 2014
Wednesday 19th February 2014
Monday 17th February 2014
Thursday 13th February 2014
Monday 4th February 2014
Monday 3rd February 2014
Saturday 1st February 2014

January 2014

Thursday 28th January 2014
Thursday 23rd January 2014
Friday 17th January 2014
Wednesday 15th January 2014
Monday 13th January 2014
Thursday 9th January 2014
Tuesday 7th January 2014
Wednesday 1st January 2014

December 2013

Monday 23rd December 2013
Friday 20th December 2013
Tuesday 17th December 2013
Friday 14th December 2013
Thursday 12th December 2013
Sunday 8th December 2013
Wednesday 4th December 2013
Sunday 1st December 2013

November 2013

Friday 29th November 2013
Wednesday 27th November 2013
Tuesday 26th November 2013
Friday 22nd November 2013
Monday 18th November 2013
Friday 15th November 2013
Thursday 14th November 2013
Sunday 10th November 2013
Thursday 7th November 2013
Wednesday 6th November 2013
Friday 1st November 2013

October 2013

Thursday 31st October 2013
Sunday 27th October 2013
Wednesday 23rd October 2013
Monday 21st October 2013
Friday 18th October 2013
Friday 11th October 2013
Wednesday 9th October 2013
Tuesday 8th October 2013
Monday 7th October 2013
Tuesday 1st October 2013

September 2013

Monday 30th September 2013
Saturday 28th September 2013
Friday 27th September 2013
Monday 23rd September 2013
Sunday 15th September 2013
Monday 9th September 2013
Tuesday 3rd September 2013
Sunday 1st September 2013

August 2013

Sunday 8th September 2013
Tuesday 3rd September 2013
Sunday 1st September 2013

Tuesday 27th August 2013
Sunday 25th August 2013
Monday 19th August 2013
Friday 16th August 2013
Tuesday 13th August 2013
Friday 9th August 2013
Friday 2nd August 2013
Thursday 1st August 2013

July 2013

Saturday 27th July 2013
Sunday 21st July 2013
Wednesday 17th July 2013
Monday 15th July 2013
Saturday 13th July 2013
Friday 12th July 2013
Thursday 11th July 2013
Wednesday 10th July 2013
Tuesday 9th July 2013
Saturday 6th July 2013

June 2013

Friday 28th June 2013
Tuesday 25th June 2013
Friday 21st June 2013
Thursday 20th June 2013
Wednesday 19th June 2013
Saturday 15th June 2013
Sunday 9th June 2013
Saturday 8th June 2013
Saturday 1st June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

July 2012 blog

June 2012 blog

May 2012 blog

April 2012 blog

March 2012 blog

February 2012 blog

January 2012 blog

December 2011 blog

November 2011 blog

October 2011 blog

September 2011 blog

August 2011 blog

July 2011 blog

June 2011 blog


The POISON GARDEN website is not connected with Alnwick Garden Enterprises Ltd and/or The Alnwick Garden Trust.