Freedom from Torture's Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024

We're delighted to be hosting a show garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024. The garden will be a space of sanctuary and healing for survivors of torture. 

In this curvaceous, immersive space, survivors can engage in therapy one-to-one, with family, or in a group. Designed with survivors, the garden will also provide a space to grow Freedom from Torture’s horticultural therapy programme, alongside the bread group.

Generously sponsored by Project Giving Back, the sanctuary garden will first be showcased on 21-25 May 2024 at one of the most famous and high-profile flower shows in the world. 

About the garden

The garden was designed by a collaboration between six-time RHS Gold Medal winner John Warland, and award-wining designer Emma O’Connell.

Sculptural streams of willow divide the space, enwrapping the visitor in peaceful zones and providing them with a sanctuary in which to relax.

A sinuous water rill offers both irrigation for the plants and restorative relaxation, and a sunken communal bread oven brings survivors together to share stories and build new friendships. The plants, themselves survivors in hostile environments, have been chosen for their drought resistance.

The naturalistic planting is inspired by the native flora from some of the regions where Freedom from Torture service users hail, to stimulate happier memories of home, and includes Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree), Atriplex halimus (Mediterranean saltbush), eucalyptus and germanders. The familiar fruits of pomegranate, fig and grapes nourish both body and soul.

After its showcase at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024, the garden will be relocated to our centre in London, where it will be used by survivors and their families on their journey to recovery.

I know first-hand how important being in nature can be for recovery. Our clients are so excited to harvest the fruit and vegetables, to bake bread in the communal oven and to have a place of sanctuary, healing, and peace.

- Borry Jarju, Service User Engagement Coordinator at Freedom from Torture

About Freedom from Torture

We're a charity that supports people who have survived torture to heal, feel safe and strong again. Together with a movement of compassionate people, we speak out to expose torture and defend the rights of survivors, nationally and globally. Freedom from Torture also runs many creative therapy programmes such as cookery, art, gardening, music, and creative writing.

Join us in fighting for a world without torture and help support torture survivors live for the future, not in the past.

Meet the designers

Two people, John and Emma, smiling at camera

John Warland is the recipient of 6 RHS Gold medals. He has a simple manifesto to amuse, bewilder and ultimately produce works of beauty. He works with innovative materials and best horticultural practices to deliver quirky, and thought-provoking spaces. 

Emma O’Connell is an award-winning garden designer creating stylish, sustainable, atmospheric green spaces that transform the way people live. With a strong eye for spatial design, outstanding horticultural knowledge and a reputation for attention to detail, she works closely with clients to create truly original gardens.

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