The Freedom from Torture Garden: A Sanctuary for Survivors

Sanctuary Gardens

The Freedom from Torture Garden is a place of sanctuary, of peace and hope where horticultural therapy calms, heals and restores survivors of torture on their journey to recovery.

The garden is designed to be a curvaceous and immersive space, where the visitor can engage in therapy one-to-one, with family, or in a group. The communal bread oven brings survivors together to share stories and build new friendships.

Sculptural streams of willow divide the space, enwrap the visitor and provide an organic place of sanctuary.

A sinuous water rill offers both irrigation for the plants, and restorative relaxation. Naturalistic planting stimulates happier memories of home and edible produce nourishes both body and soul.

At a glance:

Who is this garden for? 
A therapeutic garden for survivors of torture.
Where is the garden set?  
An arid landscape with low fertility soil and drought-resistant plantings.
Who or what is the design inspiration?
Nature’s effect on people's health and emotional wellbeing.

Key sustainability points:

  • Zero cement use, zero landfill
  • Use of structural organic willow, all harvested within the UK
  • Use of ‘Geo-Grow’ bags in place of concrete block construction
  • Drought-tolerant planting suitable for low fertility soil
  • Use of clay olla pots for tactical in-ground irrigation
  • All stone sourced from the UK


The garden will be rebuilt at Freedom From Torture HQ: Finsbury Park, London.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.