Christie’s Poison Pen Inspires Garden December 31, 2009 – Tags: Agatha Christie, Gardens, Libraries, Poisons, Royal Horticultural Society Lindley Library
Christie herself said in They Do It With Mirrors: “Poison has a certain appeal …it has not the crudeness of the revolver bullet or the blunt instrument.” Murder and attempted murder by toxin was her hallmark, with cyanide number one on the poison parade followed by arsenic, strychnine, digitalis and morphine. All of these deadly potions are plant-based products. Now, according to the Royal Horticultural Society’s Lindley Library, an English rose of a gardener has planted a public paean to poison’s particular power in Christie’s work. Ali Marshall is Head Gardener at Torre Abbey in Torquay, Devon, where the doyenne of crime fiction spent most of her life. Marshall did her homework, reading more than 80 of Christie’s books and short stories to gather ideas for the garden. Agatha Christie’s Potent Plants is the fruit of her labor, literally a garden to die for.
Cyanide, Prunus family – From the seeds of the prunus family. Potent and fast-acting causing breathing difficulties, convulsions and asphyxia. (Sparkling Cyanide, The Mirror Crack’d From Side To Side.) 5 SKULLS
Aconite, Monkshood – Rapid onset of symptoms including stomach problems, numbness and tingling. Death occurs within hours. (4.50 from Paddington, They do it with Mirrors.)
Belladonna, Deadly Nightshade – Ancient herbal remedy with unpleasant side effects: hallucinations, delirium, and convulsions. (The Caribbean Mystery, The Big Four.) 2 SKULLS
Ali Marshall explains: “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. This is a garden designed to entertain – not provide murderous opportunities!” Oh well, it still sounds like fun…