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Herbal High

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An afternoon stroll around the grounds of quaint, manicured Kew Garden’s just got a lot more appealing! Thanks to the new addition of mind-altering plants

Kew Gardens has said it themselves “Very few people live their lives without using some kind or mood or mind-altering substance.” and until October 12th Kew Gardens will do there best to explore and delve into the histories of the very plants and fungi that so many have enjoyed!

Cannabis, Magic Mushrooms, Opium, Khat and even good old Peyote are on display for people to peruse, learn about but sadly not sample! Alongside those are more tame, and frequently used ‘mind-altering’ intoxicants such as Coffee, Tobacco, Tequila and Gin…..

And I think we’ve all experienced the negative ‘mind-altering’ effects of Gin at one point or another!

Visitors will discover how the plants identities have been manipulated through time, sometimes portrayed as friend sometimes as foe, sometimes as intoxicants, other times as medicinal; and how their chemical powers have shaken economic and political worlds for centuries.

An exposition into the tobacco plant and opium poppies in the Princess of Wales Conservatory  provides visitors with a rare  glimpse into the world’s of the most notorious plants. Into the innocuous looking specimens which navigate a fine line between salvation and condemnation depending on their chemical usage and dosage. The Coca plant: due to legalities regarding its growth in the UK sadly failed make the final cut and be on show, though its vast global  popularity and frequented daily use by millions of people in the Andes today is highlighted.

Activities, workshops, tours and talks, are also on Kew’s agenda throughout Intoxication Season, highlighting just how powerful the plants chemicals can be. Each weekend focus’s on a different well-known mind-altering plant, featuring in turn: alcohol, cannabis, coffee and magic mushrooms with guest speakers including Professor David Nutt and Kew’s Professor Simmonds…though again sadly; still no taste testing!

Architectural foodsmiths Bompas and Parr host a weekend pop-up bar, the ‘Plant Connoisseurs’ Club’ in Kew’s Secluded Garden Glasshouse.  Here visitor’s can explore unfamiliar yet culturally significant plants consumed around the world, from ceremonial uses, to familiar daily caffeine fixes. For over 18s only. With willing participants offered the chance to end their day at Kew on a ‘high note’ and try one of the unusual plants.

If you need  me…You can find me at the bar!

Intoxication Season
Tickets and Information | now – 12 October
Visit: www.kew.org

Words by Tracy Kawalik

Photos by Tracy Kawalik

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