This video was made for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show press launch, held at M&G investments on the 17th January 2018. Hear designer Tom Massey speak about his main avenue show garden designed for the Lemon Tree Trust, inspired by the resilience and determination of people in situations of forced migration and displacement.
A garden inspired by the resilience, determination and ingenuity of refugees living in Domiz camp in Northern Iraq will be unveiled at the 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The Lemon Tree Trust Garden highlights the importance of gardens and gardening to the thousands of displaced people trying to rebuild their lives. The Lemon Tree Trust supports the development of urban agriculture and greening innovation for refugees and displaced people, promoting food production, well-being and community.
Exciting young designer Tom Massey debuts at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, progressing to a 10x13m main avenue garden after two successive show gardens at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show: first for The UN Refugee Agency in 2016, then for charity Perennial in 2017. His design for Lemon Tree Trust reflects the hidden beauty that can be found within refugee camps. He says:
“The garden is inspired by the resilience and determination of people in situations of forced migration and displacement. Their ability to make the most of harsh living conditions and landscapes, and their dedication to create gardens, to grow food and beautify their limited personal space is profoundly inspiring. Gardens help to organise the chaos inherent in forced migration, while also bringing a sense of normality, wellbeing, peace and civility to broken lives. Parts of the design were influenced by my conversations with refugees from Domiz camp.”
Massey’s design draws on elements found in the gardens of refugees displaced within Domiz camp and other refugee settlements across Northern Iraq. People need a way to bring order to a chaotic situation, as well as a space to come together as a community and to learn about horticulture and water retention. Beautiful, drought tolerant planting educates visitors about the type of plants and crops refugees grow on their own plots. Ingenious vertical planting techniques, inspired by refugees’ use of everyday objects, and designed with their input, showcase ideas for planting in limited spaces. Trees laden with fruit, including figs, lemons and pomegranates, provide scent and valuable crops to harvest and trade. Brutal, harsh materials, such as concrete and steel, widely available in the camps, are made beautiful with techniques such as polishing, casting and crafting into patterns and intricate Islamic inspired designs. Colourful and textural planting softens the hard materials. Cooling and calming water flows throughout the space, which is collected in channels and pools, recycled and pumped back through the brimming central Islamic inspired fountain, representing the importance of grey water reuse in the camps and the many makeshift fountains refuges have built in their own gardens.
The Chelsea Flower Show garden marks the third year of operations for Lemon Tree Trust, which started by running garden competitions inside refugee camps and donating lemon trees as a way to build connections. Stephanie Hunt, founder of Lemon Tree Trust, explains:
“In our first year, 50 families participated in the garden competition. In the second year, 150 families took part and we knew we had found something that resonated with people trying to make sense of their situation.”
The garden competition led to more ambitious and far-reaching Lemon Tree Trust projects, like the sourcing and distribution of a crisis response garden kit: an emergency ‘starter kit’ that provides wide ranging agricultural support in the form of tools, seeds and information to crisis regions in Syria and beyond. A public demonstration garden has been established in Domiz camp, and there are plans to develop a large-scale orchard and park project. The Lemon Tree Trust has started efforts in Syria and Uganda, with Jordan, Lebanon, and Greece also in plans. Hunt continues:
“We are already seeing the positive social, economic, and mental health impact of green spaces, and it all started with a garden competition! We want the Lemon Tree Trust Garden at Chelsea to demonstrate the importance of horticulture and urban agriculture to the lives of displaced people and hope it will encourage visitors to the show to find out more about our work and how they can help.”
In 2017, official UNHCR figures state that the number of displaced individuals worldwide reached 65.5 million, with 22.5 million of these being refugees. This is the highest level of displacement in history, surpassing even post-World War II figures. UNHCR spokesperson Laura Padoan said:
“Tom Massey’s beautiful design encapsulates a sense of community and connection with the land – elements that can be essential in helping to restore well-being for refugees. The Lemon Tree Trust is doing innovative work by bringing agriculture into camps and providing refugees with a means to start rebuilding their lives.”
Memories of Summer in this month's ProLandscaper magazine - colourful perennials and blazing sunshine with a designer plants feature on the Perennial Sanctuary Garden which appeared at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in July.
The Perennial Sanctuary Garden was featured on the BBC 2 television coverage of the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Tom Massey was interviewed about the garden's design by presenter Mark Lane, see the piece here >
We recently completed the re-design of a private garden for children with cancer at Kingston Hospital. Instead of ripping everything out, we re-used the existing structure, installing a new ‘Secret Garden’, hidden away in the corner of an internal courtyard.
We installed new decking and replaced the old and tired canvass screen with a bespoke western red cedar trellis. A huge sail shade was replaced with a multi-stemmed Amelanchier lamarckii tree and the struggling planting was also replaced with a fresh new planting scheme.
Visitors will find now find a welcoming oasis of vibrant green garden. We hope that the new Secret Garden space will provide a peaceful and private retreat for the parents and children supported by Momentum.
This project was supported by The Generations Foundation and Momentum.
"This has been a fantastic and rewarding project to work on, it has been a pleasure to collaborate with the passionate and dedicated Momentum team to create a new garden space for the patients of the children’s oncology ward at Kingston Hospital. I hope the garden will provide some respite and a peaceful place to escape the stressful hospital environment for the children and their families in incredibly difficult times."
Tom Massey - Director - Tom Massey - Landscape & Garden Design
The Perennial Sanctuary Garden is featured in this month's Richmond Magazine - read the article here >
The Perennial Sanctuary headlined this month's news section in the SGD Garden Design Journal. Read the article here >
The Perennial Sanctuary Garden at this summer’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show will raise awareness of the only charity dedicated to supporting everyone in the horticulture industry. Designed by Tom Massey, who won an RHS Gold Medal and ‘Best Conceptual Garden’ at Hampton Court last year with his first ever show garden, it is part of a new category at the show - ‘Gardens for a Changing World’.
The design takes a spiral form, with a changing colour palette of plants to symbolically represent the journey a Perennial client makes as they overcome difficulty with Perennial’s help. People turn to Perennial for financial and emotional help when they are faced by challenges such as illness, injury, poverty, debt and old age and many describe the help Perennial offers simply as a ‘lifeline’.
Anita Bates, Director of Marketing and Development at Perennial comments: “Tom’s design for the garden represents the difference Perennial makes to thousands of horticulturists each year, helping them move through tough times to safety. We are excited to be working with a great team of partners from across the industry to bring this garden together and showcase the best in British horticulture.”
The spiral shape of the garden is planted with a rich mix of plants. At its outer edge the vibrant red colours represent the inner chaos that can come from being at crisis point. As the visitor takes the journey into the garden following a winding gravel path, sounds from outside of the garden fade. The planting becomes taller and more immersive and the colour scheme moves through stimulating yellows and oranges to more restful purples, blues and finally pure green. Towards the centre of the design the planting is simplified, leading to a calm sanctuary at the centre of the garden with bespoke York stone benches and a large reflective water bowl. Here the planting changes to a single species of towering bamboo that screens the outside world, creating a safe haven and place for peaceful reflection hidden from view.
Garden designer Tom Massey comments: “The garden uses a beautiful array of plants to celebrate the powerful effect plants can have on wellbeing. Each swathe of colour represents a different emotion or state of mind and each shows how Perennial’s practical help and advice can be the difference between sink and swim for those who have nowhere else to turn. It is a reminder that Perennial is here to provide a safety net for all of us in the industry if ever we need it.”
In an article in 'Private View' magazine, estate agent Knight Frank have singled me out as one of a new crop of young British garden designers cultivating a flourishing reputation in both the UK and abroad. Read the article here.
Martyn Andrews of RT News investigates the growing trend of designers using horticulture to give political messages - included in the piece is a feature on the 'Border Control' garden.
Our sponsor UNHCR have produced a video on the award winning ‘Border Control’ garden I designed in collaboration with John Ward at RHS Hampton Court this Summer.
Border Control was featured in todays Evening Standard newspaper. Read the article here>
I am delighted to announce that the UNHCR 'Border Control' Garden, designed in collaboration with John Ward, has been awarded an RHS Gold Medal and the prestigious 'Best in Show' award in the Conceptual Garden category at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show 2016.
Mark Tran of the Guardian newspaper visited us during the build of the Border Control garden. Read his thoughts and an interview with Josi, one of six Eritrean refugees we invited along to help with the planting. Read the article here
Pro Landscaper magazine ran an extensive double page feature on the Border Control garden in their July issue ahead of RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. Read the article here >
A feature for the UNHCR 'Border Control' Garden in the July issue of Gardens Illustrated. See the finished garden at the Hampton Court Flower Show from the 5th - 10th July 2016.
Read my 'What Are You Working On' feature in the June issue of the Garden Design Journal here >
In this months Pro Landscaper magazine you will find an article focusing on my SGD award winning designs, how I got into the industry and my future plans. Click the image to enlarge >
Pro Landscaper Magazine asked me and other '30 Under 30' winners to write a paragraph about our biggest challenge of 2015. Read my answer below -
"2015’s biggest challenge was designing and entering a conceptual show garden for RHS Hampton Court 2016.
Unlike traditional show gardens, conceptual gardens are often more about ideas, less about immaculate construction and a beautiful aesthetic. The concept has to be clear and the message decipherable by the general public. It is an interesting challenge trying to distill a conceptual theme into a garden setting.
Getting the garden accepted was the first challenge, finding sponsorship to get it built the second. Luckily we managed to find a charity that understood the idea and loved the concept. 2016 brings the challenge of building the garden and bringing it to life!"