Intoxication Season at Kew Gardens: Mind Altering Plants and Fungi

RGB, Kew

RGB, Kew

From 20th September until 12th October 2014 at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Intoxication Season will explore the secret history behind Mind-Altering Plants and Fungi: From the opium poppy with chemical powers that have shaken economic and political worlds for centuries, to extraordinary ‘ordinary’ plants such as coffee and tobacco, cemented in culture, consumed by humans every day for their effects.

Witness the living display of notorious mind-altering plants in the Princess of Wales Conservatory before settling down in the film room to enjoy a daily programme of short, inspiring documentaries in conjunction with the Royal Anthropological Institute.

Wander around The Shirley Sherwood Gallery and marvel at the beautiful botanical art on show with its depictions of much loved stimulating drinks ingredients, from cocoa to coffee and tea. Then, your taste buds tantalised, make your way to the Orangery to relax over a hot drink and browse books from the new plant pop-up library…

Weekends at Kew Gardens will be packed with further events and activities, from Bompas and Parr’s Plant Connoisseurs Club, to the Botanical Bar and Hemp Knitting Tent! For full details, please see the calendar of activities below:

Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd September

The Plant Connoisseurs Club: Bompas and Parr return to Kew this autumn for a pop-up plant cafe run in their signature wacky style: Visitors will enter the Secluded Glasshouse in small groups, and experience culturally significant plants consumed around the world. Participants will find their senses stimulated by strange and surprising tastes from curious plants used in ceremonies or for unusual caffeine hits, from Guarana to the Kola Nut. (£5 pp – pay on the door – 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm; in the Secluded Glasshouse)

The Botanical Bar: Pick up a stimulating drink, created from delicious autumnal botanical combinations, with a changing weekly menu. Learn about the different plants that are used to make alcohol, including hops and juniper and their chemical properties. (Secluded Garden Lawn, cash bar, 11am – 5.30pm)

School of Thought: Enjoy lively and thought-provoking discussions by guest speakers and Kew experts on Saturday in the School of Horticulture (Free, rolling talks from 10.30am to 4.30pm; Each talk lasts 45 minutes). This week’s topic? Alcohol: The Culture of Intoxication.

Bright Club: On Sunday, join a lively bunch of scientists and academics who reveal that research isn’t always as serious as you might think. (Free, from 3.30 – 4.15pm, Princess of Wales Conservatory Film Room. In conjunction with UCL)

Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th September

Hemp Knitting Tent: Hemp is commonly associated with cannabis, but did you know that hemp farming is highly sustainable, and that hemp fibre is one of the strongest and most durable of all natural fibres? Come and try your hand at knitting with hemp with the Kew Craft Club, and learn more about this extraordinary plant. (Secluded Garden Lawn)

School of Thought: Watch lively and thought-provoking discussions by guest speakers and Kew experts on Saturday in the School of Horticulture (Free, rolling talks from 10.30am to 4.30pm; Each lasts 45 minutes). This week’s topic? Cannabis: drug, herb, medicine, or sacrament?

Plant Connoisseurs Club: Explore unfamiliar yet culturally significant plants consumed around the world in this interactive workshop by architectural foodsmiths Bompas and Parr. (£5 pp – pay on the door – 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm, in the Secluded Glasshouse)

Enjoy delectable drinks at Kew’s Botanical Beverages Bar and learn about plants’ roles in crafting some of the nation’s most loved alcoholic concoctions, from hops to juniper. (Secluded Garden Lawn, drinks for sale, 11am – 5.30pm)

Bright Club: On Sunday, join a lively bunch of scientists and academics who reveal that research isn’t always as serious as you might think. (Free, from 3.30 – 4.15pm, Princess of Wales Conservatory Film Room. In conjunction with UCL)

Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th October

A World of Coffee: Over 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed across the world every day. Join coffee experts from Taylors of Harrogate to learn about this amazing plant and sample different blends and strengths of coffee (Secluded Garden Lawn)

Plant Connoisseurs Club: Explore unfamiliar yet culturally significant plants consumed around the world in this interactive workshop by architectural foodsmiths Bompas and Parr. (£5 pp – pay on the door – 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm, in the Secluded Glasshouse)

School of Thought: Watch lively and thought-provoking discussions by guest speakers and Kew experts on Saturday in the School of Horticulture (Free, rolling talks from 10.30am to 4.30pm; Each talk lasts 45 minutes). This week’s topic? Coffee: The world’s favourite legal high?

Enjoy delectable drinks at Kew’s Botanical Beverages Bar and learn about plants’ roles in crafting some of the nation’s most loved alcoholic concoctions, from hops to juniper. (Secluded Garden Lawn, drinks for sale, 11am – 5.30pm)

On Sunday, join a lively bunch of scientists and academics who reveal that research isn’t always as serious as you might think. (Free, from 3.30 – 4.15pm, Princess of Wales Conservatory Film Room. In conjunction with UCL)

Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th October

Open House: Celebrate UK Fungus Day with a rare chance to visit Kew’s Fungarium, the largest in the world, holding over 850,000 species. Meet the amazing Mycology team and find out about their work

School of Thought: Watch lively and thought-provoking discussions by guest speakers and Kew experts on Saturday in the School of Horticulture (Free, at 10.30am and 4.30pm). This week’s topic? Magic Mushrooms: Gods, fairies, and chemicals

Plant Connoisseurs Club: Explore unfamiliar yet culturally significant plants consumed around the world in this interactive workshop by architectural foodsmiths Bompas and Parr. (£5 pp – pay on the door – 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm, in the Secluded Glasshouse)

Enjoy delectable drinks at Kew’s Botanical Beverages Bar and learn about plants’ roles in crafting some of the nation’s most loved alcoholic concoctions, from hops to juniper. (Secluded Garden Lawn, drinks for sale, 11am – 5.30pm)

Bright Club: On Sunday, join a lively bunch of scientists and academics who reveal that research isn’t always as serious as you might think. (Free, from 3.30 – 4.15pm, Princess of Wales Conservatory Film Room. In conjunction with UCL)

 

ONE-OFF TALKS AND WALKS

Wednesday 24th September

Professor Nutt in conversation with Professor Simmonds: Psychiatrist and neuropsychopharmacologist Professor Nutt speaks to Kew’s plant chemical specialist Professor Simmonds, exploring the chemical underworld of mind-altering plants. (£5, Booking essential; 0208 332 5626; 7pm, Jodrell Lecture Theatre)

Wednesday 1st October

Plant Intoxicants in History and Culture: author and curator Mike Jay explores how almost every society in history has used plant intoxicants, in ways that are as diverse as human culture itself. (£5, Booking essential; 0208 332 5626; 7pm, Jodrell Lecture Theatre)

Wednesday 15th October

Fungi Stroll and Soup. Join one of Kew’s mycologists on a stroll round the gardens, learn about the magical world of mushrooms, and then enjoy a delicious bowl of warming soup. (£25; Booking essential; 0208 332 5626; 10.30am – 1pm)

Tuesday 21st October

Fungi Stroll and Soup. Join one of Kew’s mycologists on a stroll round the gardens, learn about the magical world of mushrooms, and then enjoy a delicious bowl of warming soup. (£25; Booking essential; 0208 332 5626; 10.30am – 1pm)

Tuesday 28th October

Poisonous Plants: The Dark Side of Beauty. Kew’s poisons expert Elizabeth Dauncey reveals fascinating perspectives on poisonous plants: From common foods which, prepared or unprepared in certain ways can become dangerous, to plants which we can eat but other animals can’t. (£5, Booking essential; 0208 332 5626; 7pm, Jodrell Lecture Theatre)

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