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.