RHS Hampton Court Show Garden

‘UNHCR’ Border Control Garden

The UNHCR ‘Border Control’ Garden was a conceptual show garden that appeared at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in July 2016. The garden was awarded a gold medal and the prestigious Best in Show for the conceptual garden category. 

Co-designed with Tom Massey, built by Landform Consultants and sponsored by the UN Refugee Agency, the garden was designed to raise awareness of the refugee crisis and the risks that many people are forced to take to find sanctuary. 

Tying in with the UNHCR’s campaign ‘Nobody Left Outside’, the garden emphasised the importance of providing shelter, both in the physical sense and from the psychological stresses of fleeing a conflict zone. 

Garden Description:

A beautiful, fertile and tranquil island of lush planting sits across a moat bordered by razor wire fencing. Outside the fence, struggling amongst rubble, starved of nutrients and water, non-native plants fight to survive, desperate to reach the protected island.

As visitors approach, their view is from the non-native refugees’ perspective, a land full of danger, despair and suffering with only glimpses of the sanctuary beyond. However, dispersed amongst the rubble, surviving against the odds, a number of beautiful non-native plants shine, colourful displays of strength and hope in the face of adversity.

At first glance the central island planting appears to be a traditional British wildflower meadow, but on closer inspection, many of the plants from the outer zone have made it across, integrated amongst the native wildflowers, blending in, harmonising and adding to the overall beauty of the sanctuary.

Inside the garden the visitor is enveloped in a lush and beautiful oasis; but how much can this beauty truly be appreciated when surrounded by the suffering beyond.

John and Tom are exceptionally talented garden designers. Their creativity, passion and professionalism were invaluable in bringing the UNHCR Border Control garden to life. The end result was far more than a garden; it captured the essence of the refugee experience and moved many visitors to tears."

Laura Padoan - UNHCR