Jilayne Rickards looked to the women of Zimbabwe for her first Chelsea design
Chelsea newbie Jilayne Richards has designed a garden for the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) in the Space to Grow category, in order to raise awareness of the charity’s work and help bring in funding via their SeeGrowth campaign to support 1,000 female-led agricultural businesses in Africa.
The ‘Giving Girls In Africa A Space To Grow’ garden was inspired by her visit to a CAMFED partner community in Zimbabwe, where she met agricultural entrepreneur, Beauty Gombana, whose life was transformed following the education and training support offered by the charity. Beauty now runs her own successful farming business, trialling new crops and farming methods and providing educational facilities on her property to help the women and others in her community.
To showcase the CAMFED story, the garden features edible crops that reflect the importance of horticulture as a source of food and income in rural Zimbabwe. Rickards has also included biofortified crops, such as beans and maize, that are specially adapted to maximise yields where resources are scarce, as well as water-saving techniques that UK visitors can use at home.
Large-leaved fruit trees, including banana and papaya, inject height and texture, while the red soil and rocks typical of the Zimbabwean landscape, together with the vibrant blue walls that frame the garden, provide colour. A classroom building at the back of the garden represents a learning space where girls are taught to grow their own crops and become self-sufficient.
It was a chance meeting with an old school friend that sparked the idea for the garden. “After a 20-year gap, I bumped into my old friend Charlotte Watts, who I went to school with in Cornwall, when our children were attending the same school in London. Charlotte works as the Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for International Development and we were looking for a project that we could collaborate on. We then hit upon the idea of a Chelsea garden for CAMFED, and we’re both thrilled that it will also have a second life after the show at the Eden Project – for us, this is a really nice Cornish connection.”