"Hemlock in the cocktails, wasn't it? Something of that kind." Agatha Christie

Much of my childhood was spent messing about in boats on the River Dart in South Devon. We would be busy making dams, lighting fires, paddling or swimming, invariably covered in mud and occasionally yelling 'Swallows and Amazons forever!' Sounds idyllic? It was. But I had murder in mind...

An obsession had formed. Without fail, as we motored on towards Dartmouth and the estuary, I would desperately search high up through the trees, for a mere glimpse of Agatha Christie's much beloved holiday home, Greenway. Agatha Christie, the Queen of Crime, would not have been there at the time, she had visited every summer from 1938 until her death in 1976. It was the early eighties and I had become a fan, reading her books and avidly watching the film and TV adaptations.

Greenway was donated to the National Trust, restored, and subsequently opened to the public in 2009. I visited for the first time in 2016. Finally I was in the Georgian house that I had only ever spied on from the river as a child. I explored the gardens and wandered down to the boathouse; the inspiration for where poor Marlene Tucker would meet her untimely end. 

In honour of Agatha Christie and those trips up the River Dart, I've designed a set of four Art Deco-style patterned cards based on the plant-derived poisons used in her books. Cards for people you like, love or loathe. I'm not advocating sending ricin through the post but can almost guarantee, you won't get in trouble for mailing these poisons. 

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Cherry Laurel (Cyanide)
On more than one occasion, Agatha Christie's murderers have added cyanide to the champagne, resulting in the unfortunate victims dropping dead at parties; a sure-fire way to kill the atmosphere. The green pattern contains a repeat 'sparkling champagne' motif with almond shaped droplets referencing the smell of bitter almonds that Hercule Poirot knows so well...

Deadly Nightshade (Belladonna)
Belladonna – meaning ‘beautiful lady’ in Italian – was used by Renaissance women to dilate the pupils by squeezing the juice from the berries and applying directly to the eye using a feather. This poisonous plant has been used for beauty, medicine, and of course, murder. The design turns the 'Devil's cherries' into pupils, with a peacock feather element to give the idea of preening.

Castor Oil Plant (Ricin)
Agatha Christie had her murderer add ricin to the fig paste sandwiches, ending what was probably a delightful afternoon tea. The spiny seed pods of the castor oil plant are bright pink, and the seeds/beans within them, a lovely pattern of bronze and brown. Inspiration for the pattern’s shapes came from sandwiches, doilies and The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken. 

Foxglove (Digitalis)
The deadly foxglove features in stories such as Crooked House and Appointment with Death. An Art Deco-style heart pattern features on the design. The digitalis extract has been medically used in the treatment of heart conditions ever since its discovery in 1775. Agatha Christie, with her pharmacist experience, knew that a dosage too high would stop the heart...

The square cards are 145 x 145mm, printed on luxury embossed card and left blank for your own message. Each card design is complimented by a metallic envelope and packaged in a biodegradable clear display bag. Available as single cards or a set of four.

The Poisonous Plant Collection is available to buy on Etsy 

UPDATE JUNE 2018:

There are now six deliciously deadly card designs in the set. Hemlock and Monkshood have now been added to the range.

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Greenway , 'The loveliest place in the world', Agatha Christie

Greenway, 'The loveliest place in the world', Agatha Christie

Resources for poison plant research: 
www.thepoisongarden.co.uk
A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup

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