The welcoming majesty of trees makes them ideally suited as part of an impressive entrance. Single variety sweeping avenues into estates, or spectacular specimens, set the tone for visitors.

The National Memorial Arboretum Visitor Centre

The National Memorial Arboretum (NMA) in Staffordshire is the UK’s centre of remembrance, a spiritually uplifting place which honours the fallen and recognises service and sacrifice. It is a place for reflection and over 30,000 young trees have been planted over the 150-acre grounds. With 300 dedicated memorials, it has a living and lasting legacy.

The visitor centre gardens and entrances have been designed very cleverly by award-winning landscape architects Fira. The entrance road and carpark sets the scene; people arriving from hectic journeys and stressful lives are immediately surrounded by beautiful trees and shrubs and the calming reflection begins.

Fira came to Hillier to select a number of very special trees for the new visitor centre entrance, in the form of elegant but uncompromising cube-headed Quercus palustris. These unique cube-headed oak trees enhance the building and lead the guest to the entrance of the visitor centre where friendly, kind, volunteers offer a greeting.

The NMA is seen as a place of joy, but the stories told there are powerful, disturbing, emotional and humbling. It`s hard to believe the suffering endured by the people who are remembered at this peaceful, uplifting and inspiring place. Please visit when you can, it’s an important place that deserves your time.

NationalMemorial Arboretum entrance with Hillier Trees

Transforming RHS Garden Wisley

A new avenue of Prunus x yedoensis supplied by Hillier to RHS Garden Wisley as part of a major revamp is just one example of using trees to make an entrance.

The world-famous Royal Horticultural Society flagship garden, Wisley, began a huge transformation process in 2011 to upgrade the visitor experience — a task that would take many years to complete. Of utmost importance was a new entrance to reflect the importance of the gardens and a sense of arrival. Renowned landscape architect Christopher Bradley-Hole was commissioned to design the landscape around the new Welcome building, with an emphasis on British horticulture and trees taking centre stage.

Hillier was delighted to be contacted to be involved in the project and at an early stage in its creation. Christopher Bradley-Hole and the RHS Garden Wisley team choose the desired trees from Hillier before ground had even been broken.

Prunus yedoensis trees in blossom at RHS Garden Wisley
Contract Potting

The chosen Prunus x yedoensis trees were tagged at our field nurseries in Liss, Petersfield – conveniently located a short drive from RHS Garden Wisley – in 2016. They were lifted as root-balled trees and transported to our Broadmead Container Nursery near Romsey. There they were containerised in air-pots to root through and be ready for planting whenever the project dictated.

Matthew Pottage, RHS Garden Wisley curator, and his team were able to regularly inspect the trees over a two-year period. During this time, the prunus, along with roof-trained planes that Hillier were nurturing from a partner nursery, established in their pots.

The trees were planted out at RHS Garden Wisley in spring 2019. As with many construction projects, the schedule overran, but because the trees had been containerised it didn’t matter. The trees were eventually planted when the Prunus x yedoensis were in full blossom, with the official opening to the public on 10th June 2019.

Prunus x yedoensis

Prunus x yedoensis, also known as the Yoshino Cherry, is the classic Japanese cherry. It has a lovely spreading habit and produces almond-scented flowers, blushed white, in great profusion in March to April. This tree was specified by Christopher Bradley-Hole and the RHS to create a beautiful spectacle and real drama highlighting the entrance to RHS Garden Wisley.


James Hillier

Articles by this Author