In 2018 we were proud to create the Lemon Tree Trust Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which was inspired by the resilience, determination and ingenuity of refugees living in Domiz camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. It highlighted the unexpected beauty hidden in the camp and the importance of gardens to displaced people trying to rebuild their lives.  

Our garden was designed by Tom Massey, his first time at Chelsea, and we were proud to receive an RHS Silver-Gilt Medal. It attracted incredible attention, bringing our work to the thousands of visitors and millions of people who saw the garden on TV and other media.

Lemon Tree Trust founder Stephanie Hunt said: “Being part of the Chelsea Flower Show gave us a chance to elevate the amazing stories of refugees and pay tribute to their creativity and ingenuity to create gardens out of so little. What is shown time and time again is that gardening is not just a ‘nice to have’; it is a fundamental human desire – to grow food and to seek solace in cultivating a patch of ground.”

 

Photos ©Britt Willoughby Dyer.

The garden drew inspiration from the gardens that people have created in Domiz camp, using materials that can be found there, such as concrete and steel, with screens inspired by traditional Islamic designs. An ‘innovation wall’ was filled with everyday objects such as tin cans and plastic bottles were used as containers for vertical planting. The beautiful drought tolerant planting included vegetables, herbs and fruit trees – specifically lemon, pomegranate and fig, often used in Middle Eastern cooking. Channels of water radiating from the Islamic inspired fountain at the centre of the garden provided a peaceful and cooling atmosphere, while representing the importance of grey water reuse in the camps.

In researching the design, Tom Massey was supported by Dr Sami Youssef, a Syrian refugee who previously lived in Domiz camp. Sami is a biodiversity expert and was an invaluable source of information and assistance with regard to the plants chosen for the garden.

Further reading about our Chelsea Flower Show Garden

Read media coverage about the Lemon Tree Trust Garden.

Qānūn player Maya Youssef performs on the Lemon Tree Trust Garden.

 

We are thrilled that elements from our 2018 RHS Chelsea show garden are being used in the new ‘repurposed’ feature garden at this year’s flower show. RHS Chelsea Repurposed will bring together elements from several show gardens dating back as far as 2010 to highlight creative ways of reusing and recycling materials in garden design. … Continued

Thank you to illustrator Linda Combi for supporting Lemon Tree Trust again in 2024. Earlier this year, Linda held an exhibition, ‘52 Postcards on the theme of Oasis’, at the Pyramid Gallery in York, UK. Proceeds from gallery and online sales during this time have been divided between Lemon Tree Trust and the UNHCR. Featured … Continued

Meet Othman Qewas: Lemon Tree Trust’s valued team member and Gawilan camp resident Our gardening activities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq are run for and by local displaced people – with Othman Qewas, our Garden Coordinator in Gawilan camp * – being one such person.  Othman is a valued member of the Lemon Tree … Continued