I was in Cork for my good friend Steve McCarthy's wedding and had the chance to visit the infamous Blarney Castle, Ireland's own version of Graceland.
I was told the Castle also had some impressive gardens, so at the urging of my buddy, and famed wedding crasher, Jon Baime, I passed on a mid-day nap and made the short drive from Cork to Blarney.
The grounds were amazing with gardens of all shapes and sizes.
But it was the Poisonous Gardens at the base of the Castle that stopped me in my tracks. One of the coolest and cruelest things I've ever seen.
So many common plants that are mainstays in U.S. gardens are potential killers, or at least dangerous bedfellows.
The iron cages hid the real bad boys like Deadly Nightshade, the king of killer plants.
And our old friend Poison Ivy.
Interesting that they listed tobacco and marijuana (sorry Pep) for the potential harm they can bring to regular users.
Same with Opium, but I had never seen the plant in person before. The blooms are really something!
Some of the poisonous plants in the collection, that many of us enjoy in our home landscapes, were Sweet Shrub, Chaste Tree, Rhubarb (the leaf), Hellebores, Japanese Holly, and Foxglove.
No, Eucalyptus is not a poisonous plant. It's on the other end of the spectrum and has hundreds of medicinal purposes. Saw this tree that had just been coppiced (cut back to promote new growth) just outside the poisonous gardens and thought it was ironic.
Finally, Harry Potter fans should be proud that author JK Rowling did her horticultural homework. Wolfsbane, used by Hogwarts students to render dangerous beasts into sleepy wolves, is actually a nasty plant that tortures the stomach and slows the heart rate to deadly levels.
And Mandrake, another plant that's properties attack the vital organs, was also a favorite Potter plant. Hogwarts students hurled it over the castle's embankments to ward off Death Eaters.
Next blog post; Our first edition of "Eucalyptus Trials Observations - Drought and doubt".