Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park


Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA)


12,000 Semi-mature trees, 2,000 multi-stems, 50,000 shrubs and herbaceous plants

Hillier Project Manager:

Hossein Arshadi ( Project Director), Caroline Swann (Project Manager), James Hillier (Assistant Project Manager)

Plant Production:

Andlers Ash Field Grown Nursery, Broadmead Container Nursery and Brentry Wholesale Plants

Deliveries Made:


Liquidambar trees lining Olympic Park London

The Brief

Hillier Trees won the highly competitive bidding process for the plant contract to supply all of the trees for the London 2012 Olympic Parkland, a project commissioned by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA). The successful completion of the initial phase occurred before the London Olympics in 2012.

As a result, we secured a second phase of the project, referred to as ‘The Transformation’, which involved the establishment of the permanent Queen Elizabeth Parklands for the London Legacy Development Corporation.

Today, the park, spanning 111 acres, is fully accessible to the public. It stands as a splendid showcase of Great British plants for an extraordinary British project, a source of pride for all parties involved.


For the Olympic Parklands projects, our field grown trees underwent containerisation to facilitate an extended planting schedule, allowing for year-round planting. Containerised trees exhibit rapid on-site establishment with minimal to no growth setbacks.

Selected at a suitable size from our field nursery in Hampshire, the trees were containerised at our container nursery, designated exclusively for Contract Growing projects. The trees were clearly marked and left in a dedicated area, ensuring the client could inspect their trees, and have confidence in their security and readiness for delivery to site.

The containerisation process involved using Air Pots, designed to encourage the development of extensive fibrous roots which are critical for optimal air and water exchange. This approach significantly enhanced the success of transplanting trees to their final on-site locations. The high quality of trees, coupled with effective containerisation and professional maintenance at the Olympic Park, resulted in a 0% failure rate, with no losses.

In addition to trees, a diverse range of shrubs and herbaceous plants were cultivated at our nursery to meet the clients precise specifications. Notably all tree production at Hillier Trees adheres to a 100% peat-free approach.

Contract growing trees on Hillier nursery


The client encouraged us to innovate in order to ensure the traceability of the trees. We formulated the following strategy:

  • Each tree in the field received a tag containing the botanical name, tree size, and the total quantity within the group.
  • A separate plastic identification tag featuring the clients name and unique tree security ID number, was attached to each tree. Every tree on the Olympic Parklands Planting Plan was assigned a specific number corresponding to its unique security ID.
  • This numbering system established a comprehensive audit trail and was consistently applied across all databases and schedules to track species, size, field location, container placement, and supply dates. The trees were accurately identified and retrieved by their unique numbers, achieving a 100% success rate in matching the correct tree to its designated location.


The Olympic Park site was recognised as being one of the most complex construction sites in Europe, requiring a number of challenging delivery needs:

  • Multiple call-offs throughout the year, often requiring a rapid turnaround
  • A large number of deliveries (more than 250), with some large trees only able to be carried one to a lorry
  • Special requirements, including weekend deliveries and abnormal loads
  • All lorries conformed to the highest Cross Rail safety standards
  • Three landscape contractors were used just to the size of the Olympic Park with each contractor working in a slightly different way
  • All deliveries had to be booked in with the Olympic Delivery Management System and be in line with their requirements

The key to successful delivery was effective ongoing communication, particularly between our Project Manager and Despatch Manager. We took great care and pride over every tree.

Horticultural Skills

The Olympic plant supply contract had challenging production requirements that required considerable horticultural expertise:

  • All trees were containerised in air pots
  • The Arts project team required 15 ‘special trees’, all at 12-15m high and specially pruned with artworks in the canopy. The trees were selected, shaped and delivered as abnormal loads at one per lorry
  • Over 1,000 of the trees were produced as multi-stems and shaped as specified
  • Phil Hall visited the Olympic Park at the client’s request to train one of the Landscape Contractors on bespoke pruning on 10m high Platanus hispanica

Martin Hillier commented during the process:

“Every Olympic load will be perfect and nurtured as if they were our Show plants going to win a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show.”

Insights gained

Supplying the Olympic Park proved to be a significant project marked by continuous evolution and development. We quickly grasped the understanding that any horticultural challenge can be successfully addressed, with effective communication playing a pivotal role in overcoming obstacles.