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

Read media coverage about the Lemon Tree Trust Garden.

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

Support our Emergency Seed Appeal

In response to the global Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic, we are focused on distributing food and flower seeds to people in refugee and IDP camps who are coping with Government enforced curfews and self-isolation at their shelters. Gardener to gardener, please help families to continue planting in their home gardens by making a donation or by sending us packets of seeds.

Support our Gardener to Gardener Seed Appeal.

 

The Azadi Community Garden in Domiz 1 camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, is run by a small team of gardeners headed up Aveen, our Operations Manager. We asked team members Ismail and Shalal (pictured below) some questions about their work in the garden and their favourite plants. Ismail “I’m Ismail, a Syrian refugee. … Continued

Huge gratitude and thanks go to Erin Benzakein, Becky Crowley and all the team at Floret Flowers. As well as a generous donation of Floret seeds to our emergency ‘Gardener to Gardener’ Seed Appeal, Erin has published a lovely interview feature with our founder Stephanie Hunt on the Floret website. In the feature, Stephanie chats … Continued

Our heartfelt thanks go to Bridget and Henrietta at The Land Gardeners for donating profits from the first issue of their new pop-up magazine to Lemon Tree Trust. In this beautiful digital magazine, The Land Gardeners share what to plant and how to grow in lockdown. Plus, read about Erin Benzakein’s favourite pink flowers, Paul Bangay’s most-loved garden book, Kay … Continued