Image credit: ALA Architects


Visitors to the new Maggie’s cancer centre in Southampton will be able to benefit from the charity’s much-needed free support and expertise in a beautiful setting inspired by the nearby New Forest. Hillier Trees is proud to have supplied more than 100 British-grown trees, helping achieve the design vision of a tranquil oasis for visitors.  

The brand-new Maggie’s in Southampton, which opened in 2021, is the first Maggie’s in the South of England. With around 10,000 people sadly diagnosed with cancer in the central south coast area of England each year, there was a clear need in the region for Maggie’s invaluable free support for those living with cancer as well as their family and friends.

The centre is in the grounds of the University Hospital Southampton, which is one of only 12 regional cancer centres and amongst the largest of the university hospitals in the UK. Maggie’s work will complement the treatments received by people at the hospital and the centre is expected to receive more than 20,000 visits each year.

Maggie’s are created with the intention to feel more like a home than a hospital. Great architecture and beautifully landscaped surroundings are a vital part of this and fundamental to all Maggie’s. Having viewed design plans for the new Maggie’s in Southampton, Hillier saw how they could use their horticultural expertise to offer support through the supply of trees. Hillier has provided more than 100 British-grown trees from the company’s nurseries in Hampshire at no profit to the company, which are all now in place for visitors to enjoy.

The centre has been created in partnership with award-wining architects AL_A, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and Sarah Price, one of the country’s most sought-after landscape designers. Almost three-quarters of the 1,470m2 site has been given over to four distinct gardens, inspired by the ecology of the nearby New Forest. These form a tranquil oasis that looks as if it has always been there, providing seclusion from the outside world.

Naturalistic Tree Forms

Image credit: ALA architects

In keeping with Sarah Price’s design ethos, trees at the new centre include species that create a natural, woodland look and feel, blend visually with the striking architectural design and provide year-round interest.

“Sarah is a very visual, creative designer,” comments Caroline Swann, Account Manager at Hillier Trees. “Due to Coronavirus restrictions, we conducted a number of video tours to select trees. This allowed us to give a 360° walk around each one to make sure it was perfect!”

Tree species to spot throughout the garden at the centre include Betula pendula (silver birch), Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine), Sorbus aucuparia (Mountain ash), Prunus serrula (Tibetan cherry) and Prunus avium (wild cherry). Many of these are multi-stem or more naturalistic forms, as opposed to a more traditional neat clipped form.

A Team Effort

As well as supplying trees, Hillier contacted MJT Landscapes and Yoreland Design for support with hard and soft landscaping elements at the Centre.

MJT Landscapes, who have contributed to a number of gold-medal winning Hillier exhibits at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, were responsible for hard landscaping elements including creation of the planting bunds requiring nearly 1,500 tons of sub and topsoil.

 “MJT Landscapes were thrilled to work with the Hillier Team on the project for Maggie’s at Southampton,” says Mark Tomlinson, Director of MJT Landscapes. “There were a number of challenges during the build due to Covid restrictions and delays with weather conditions, so it is great to see the garden now completed and in full bloom. I look forward to seeing it mature over time.”

“On behalf of the Yoreland Design team, I can say that it was a pleasure to support such a worthwhile cause,” says Leigh Richards, Founder and Director of Yoreland Design Ltd.

Supplier partners of Hillier Garden Centres also offered their support for this project, including Westland, who donated 12 pallets of mulch.

Generous support was also given by Platipus Anchors, who provided all the tree anchors used to support and stabilise the trees at a reduced cost, as well as making a company donation towards Maggie’s centres.

“Maggie’s was delighted to work with Hillier to realise Sarah Price’s landscape at University Hospital Southampton,” says Siobhan Wyatt, Property Projects Lead at Maggie’s. “Our New Forest oasis is now able to offer a calm haven for anyone living with cancer, and their loved ones, while they receive support from our staff.”

“We are delighted that all trees are now in position and thriving,” comments George Hillier, Director of Property at Hillier Nurseries. “This centre is already bringing a huge benefit to the community and we are proud to have been able to lend our support.”

Image credit: ALA architects