Warnes McGarr The Poisonous Garden RHS Tatton 2018

Announcing The Poisonous Garden

by Michael John McGarr

We are immensely pleased and excited to announce that Warnes McGarr & Co will be designing and project-managing the Poisonous Garden in association with The RHS for the Tatton Flower in July.

After three award-winning years of designing show gardens – including last year’s gold-award winning 2101 garden – we’re really honoured to be asked back again to design this large visitor attraction.

RHS Tatton in Knutsford, Cheshire is also celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2018 so it really is going to be an exciting year.

About The Poisonous Garden

The garden will be an exhibition in all that is gruesome and glorious within planting. We’re currently working on our plans and designs with The RHS, and we’ll be posting updates as they develop.

Already we are busily having our plants sourced and grown across our nursery partners in the North West in preparation for what will be an extraordinary celebration of the lesser known side of horticulture.

The garden journey will start with a gothic entrance tunnel leading to the various parts of the exhibition, which are sketched out below.

Please remember, all of this is subject to change as our plans develop and grow.

The Pretty Deadly

This area will include plants that are stunning to look at but can also kill you! The plants we’re are hoping to exhibit will be Ricinus in its huge red format, which are super toxic and will form architectural structure with the landscape design.

We have also included some well-known plants which are not well known for their dark side and are traditionally used within cottage garden schemes such as the ever-present favourite foxglove (Digitalis purpurea).

Aconitum is a genus of around 250 flowering plants, many of which are poisonous. The poison is an alkaloid called aconitine, which disables nerves, lowers blood pressure, and can stop the heart.

Hungry Plants

This area will include – as you would expect – plants that feast upon the living! We have a few great plants we are looking to exhibit this year including Sarracenia, also commonly called the pitcher plant, known for its insatiable appetite for all flying insects. This is a real turnaround from the butterfly dome last year!


This will be a pharmacy type area where all many of cures and poisons may be dispensed from.

Break out space/ Talks Space

As we write, my business partner Rob is currently working through various formats for the landscape structures within this design. The plan is to have a series of walkthrough areas, with the central courtyard area forming a break-out space, where we can hold talks.

There will be fascinating talks about poisonous plants with Michael Perry, aka Mr Plant Geek, and Michael Brown, over the show period.

The end of the display will lead to the Remedy Exit, which will display some remedy plants.

We also plan to exhibit huge cages that will hold specimen plants of the gruesome variety and will have these carefully sited through out the exhibition.

Overall, this project is a huge deal for our garden design business as we continue to push the boundaries within a show garden format. This particular project is a bold move by the RHS Tatton Flower Show team in engaging a wider audience of to the joys and excitement of horticulture and garden design and we thank them for engaging our involvement.

With this particular exhibition we hope that we can excite a new generation to horticulture and garden design and encourage people to think differently about horticulture and garden design.

Warnes McGarr & Co will have a stand at the event and we will be on hand to answer any questions and discuss any of your poisonous enquiries!

If you’d like to find out more about our innovative and cutting edge garden design, please call our design studio on 01257 696 012.



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