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. It’s 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.

Award winning landscape architects, Fira, designed the visitor centre gardens and entrances very cleverly. The entrance road and carpark set the scene, welcoming people arriving from stressful journeys. Beautiful trees and shrubs immediately surround them, initiating a calming reflection.

Fira came to Hillier to select a number of very special trees for the new visitor centre entrance. These were in the form of elegant but uncompromising cube-headed Quercus palustris. The unique cube-headed oak trees enhance the building and lead guests to the entrance of the visitor centre

Many view the NMA as a place of joy, yet the stories shared there are powerful, disturbing, emotional and humbling. It’s difficult to fathom the suffering endured by the individuals commemorated at this peaceful, uplifting, and inspiring location. Please visit when you can, it’s an important place that deserves your time.

NationalMemorial Arboretum entrance with Hillier Trees

Transforming RHS Garden Wisley

Another example of utilising trees to create an entrance, is the installation of an avenue of Prunus yedoensis, supplied by Hillier to RHS Garden Wisley, as part of a significant revamp.

The world-famous Royal Horticultural Society flagship garden, Wisley, began a huge transformation process in 2011 to upgrade the visitor experience. It was a task that would take many years to complete. The most important job was its new entrance to reflect the significance 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, emphasising British horticulture and trees.

We were delighted when we were contacted to be involved in the project at an early stage of its creation. Christopher Bradley-Hole and the RHS Garden Wisley team selected the desired trees from us before the ground had been broken.

Prunus yedoensis trees in blossom at RHS Garden Wisley
Contract Potting

We tagged the chosen Prunus yedoensis trees at our field nursery, which is located a short drive from RHS Garden Wisley. We lifted them as root balled trees and transported them to our container nursery, near Romsey. At the nursery, we containerised the trees in air pots to root through and be ready for planting whenever the project required.

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 established in their pots.

In spring 2019, the gardeners planted the trees as RHS Garden Wisley. As the trees were containerised, it didn’t matter if the schedule ran over. The gardeners eventually planted the trees when the Prunus yedoensis were in full bloom. The official opening to the public took place on 10th June 2019.

Prunus yedoensis

Prunus yedoensis, also known as the Yoshino Cherry, is the classic Japanese cherry. With a lovely spreading habit, they produce almond scented flowers, blushed white, in great profusion in March to April. Chosen by Christopher Bradley-Hole and the RHS to highlight the entrance to RHS Garden Wisley.


James Hillier

Articles by this Author