As part of Kew’s Intoxication Season (from now until 12 October), Bompas & Parr is taking over Kew Gardens’ Secluded Glasshouse on weekends, creating an immersive, theatrical locale for budding plant connoisseurs to expand their minds by learning about other cultures’ perspectives on natural-born plant intoxicants.
Against a historical context, and with the guidance of ethnobotanists, toxicologists, drugs historians and medics, the workshops will examine our collective attitude to drugs and contrasting our own socially acceptable substances – tobacco, alcohol and caffeine – with other less familiar stimulants and sedatives.
Best of all, adventurous types can also seek spiritual enlightenment with our Grand Master host, by directly sampling a small amount of one of four plant-products that are widely consumed on a global basis, but which we’re less familiar with in the UK.
Betel nut, kola nut, raw guarana and blue lotus tea are all variously attributed certain psychoactive, mindaltering properties and have been consumed for centuries as far afield as Ancient Egypt and the jungles of South America.
‘Though entertaining, this is a serious endeavour that provokes participants to think again about societal attitudes to drugs. I’m hoping that this candid and practical workshop opens the doors of perception on the impact of future use of stimulating, mind-altering and possibly consciousness-enhancing substances and the consequences for individuals and society,’ says toxicologist Dr Nick Edwards.
Tickets are £5 each, available from kew.org/visit-kewgardens/whats-on/plant-connoisseurs-club (please note, tickets to this event do not include entry into the Gardens).
Over 18s only. Please note that participants choosing to try an unusual plant will be required to sign a disclaimer to confirm that you have read and understood the medical guidelines associated with consuming the sample. If you choose not to sample as a result of the guidelines, don’t worry, you can still enjoy the rest of the workshop.