This beautifully illustrated volume contains the journal of "Weed" - an orphan boy who is apprenticed to an evil old apothecary, who uses him abysmally. The apothecary also sells poisons, which are planted in a walled garden. Weed's journal is part botanical workbook and part a diary of his own relationship with the poisonous plants, for he discovers that he is one of a few people with whom the plants can talk. The plants try to persuade Weed that with their help his master can easily be disposed of. It also becomes apparent that some of the plants have curative properties that might help the local villagers and Weed secretly begins to prepare medicines. He delivers the medicines through a girl called Marigold, his secret friend and first love. However, she experiments with the poisons and dies - which pushes Weed over the edge and he eventually kills his master in spectacular fashion. Each "chapter" of the story will start with Weed making botanical notes from what his master has taught him. The plant's appearance and properties, where it is found, how it should be cared for, the most poisonous parts, how poison is extracted and administered, etc. These notes will be accompanied by sketches of the plants in their natural form. Alongside, however, are Weed's "diary" entries, written more urgently on separate scraps of paper and with further illustrations that show the "real" personalities of the plants. The poisons include Belladonna, Ergot, Hemlock, Henbane, Opium, Hogweed, Ricin, Nicotinia, Mandrake and Strychnine. This gothic yet entertaining tale will delight both children and adults and also serves as an educational parable.
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The Duchess of Northumberland has long researched poison gardens. She is responsible for creating the Poison Garden at Alnwick Gardens, which opened in 2004 to worldwide acclaim and not a little press agitation as she had to get a licence from the Home Office to grow opium and cannabis. The Poison Garden is the culmination of a life goal to teach children and adults alike about the curative and killing propeties of poisonous plants. Colin Stimpson has worked on many of the best animations coming out of Hollywood today - he is currently working on the new Tinkerbell movie