First Hillier Trees in Place at new Maggie’s Centre Southampton

The first of more than 100 British-grown trees supplied by Hillier Trees have been delivered to their final destination at the new Maggie’s Centre in Southampton. The Centre and surrounding grounds, which will be the first for Maggie’s in the South of England, is designed to create a tranquil oasis for visitors.  

Hillier is proud to be supporting charity partner Maggie’s as they create a brand-new Maggie’s Centre in Southampton, adjacent to the hospital. The centre will have cutting edge architectural design and beautifully landscaped surrounding gardens. Having viewed plans, Hillier saw how they could use their horticultural expertise to offer support through the supply of trees. Hillier is providing more than 100 British-grown trees from the company’s nurseries in Hampshire at no profit to the company, the first of which have now arrived at the centre.

The Centre is being created in partnership between award-wining architects AL_A, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and Sarah Price, one of the country’s most sought-after landscape designers. The design will create an oasis in the grounds of the hospital’s suburban campus. Almost three-quarters of the 1,470m2 site is being given over to four distinct gardens that are inspired by the ecology of the nearby New Forest. The intention is for the garden to look as if it has always been there, providing seclusion from the outside world.


A conceptual design image of the new centre


In keeping with Sarah Price’s design ethos, the tree selection includes species that will create a natural, woodland look and feel; offer a colour palette that blends with the striking architectural design and provide year-round interest.

Following a number of visits to Hillier Trees field and container tree nurseries in Hampshire, individual container and root-ball trees were selected by Sarah. The timing of the national lockdown in late March, as a result of COVID-19, inevitably created a delay to the originally planned planting schedule. This meant that the season for planting root-balled trees had passed. Fortunately, this did not create an obstacle, thanks to Hillier having a container as well as a field tree nursery. Trees growing on the container tree nursery can be planted all year round, which meant it was possible to simply substitute some of the planned root-ball trees for container grown ones.

“Sarah is a very visual, creative designer,” comments Caroline Swann, Account Manager at Hillier Trees. “With us unable to conduct an in-person tour of container trees due to Coronavirus restrictions, we had video calls instead to re-select trees. This allowed us to give a 360° walk around each one to make sure it was perfect!”

Prunus serrula at Hillier Trees container tree nursery


Tree species selected for the new 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 have been specified as multi-stem or more naturalistic forms, as opposed to a more traditional neat clipped form, fitting with the design ethos.

The trees are all being delivered from Hillier Trees container tree nursery in Hampshire and planted over the space of a few weeks in January; an almost military operation requiring the brief closure of roads around the grounds to facilitate delivery.

MJT Landscapes and Yoreland Design were contacted by Hillier and are supporting with hard and soft landscaping.

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

 “MJT Landscapes are thrilled to be working with the Hillier Team on the project for Maggie’s at Southampton,” says Mark Tomlinson, Director of MJT Landscapes. “We hope the finished garden will bring comfort to those who visit.”


A partial view of some of the large planting bunds


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


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

Generous support has also been given by Platipus Anchors, who have 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.


The official opening of the new Centre is planned for early February 2021.

“Maggie's are delighted to be working closely 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 will be a haven for anyone living with cancer, and their loved ones, while they receive support from our staff.”

“We are delighted that trees are now being delivered and we look forward to seeing them all in their final position,” comments George Hillier, Director of Property at Hillier Nurseries. “This Centre is going to bring a huge benefit to the community and we are proud to have been able to lend our support.”



Notes for Editors

About Hillier:

“To inspire the creation of green living spaces for now and the future”

Hillier is the most successful exhibitor in the history of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, having been awarded 74 consecutive gold medals.

The company was founded in 1864 by Edwin Hillier and remains a family-run nursery with the fifth generation now actively involved in the family business as it continues to grow. The company employs over 700 staff across its wholesale nursery, amenity trees and 17 Garden Centres and grows over one million plants a year. It is the largest tree grower in the UK.

Over the years, Hillier has been responsible for numerous plant introductions, many of which have become essentials in British gardens and it continues with the tradition of innovation and the introduction of new garden plants in the present day.

About Hillier Trees:

Hillier Trees is recognised as the UK’s premier tree grower, supplying the most comprehensive selection of quality, British-grown trees all year round from either our field or container nurseries.

About Maggie’s:

• Maggie’s offers free practical and emotional support for all people living with cancer, and their family and friends. Built in the grounds of specialist NHS cancer hospitals, Maggie’s Centres are warm and welcoming places, with qualified professionals on hand to offer a programme of support that has been shown to improve physical and emotional wellbeing.

• Great architecture is vital to the care Maggie’s offers; and to achieve that Maggie’s works with great architects like the late Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers and Norman Foster, whose expertise and experience deliver the calm, uplifting environments that are so important to the people who visit and work in the Centres.

• The first Maggie’s Centre opened in Edinburgh in 1996. There are now 26 Centres across the UK and abroad, with more planned for the future.

• Maggie’s relies on voluntary donations to support and grow its network of Centres and to develop its unique, high-quality programme of support. The charity’s aim is to make the biggest difference possible to people living with cancer and their family and friends.

• Maggie’s President is HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

• For further information about Maggie’s please go to www.maggiescentres.org

About MJT Landscapes:

MJT Landscapes was formed in 2004, working primarily on small domestic projects and local garden maintenance. Since then MJT Landscapes has transformed into a successful business built on its good reputation, not only within its hometown of Reading but also within the wider, national Garden Centre sector. The business has continued to expand throughout the years and is now able to offer a comprehensive, award-winning hard landscaping service to both private and commercial clients.

About Yoreland Design:

Yoreland Design Ltd - was created by Leigh Richards, to design and construct, high quality outdoor spaces.


Leigh started in landscape construction in 1998, studied at Merrist Wood College and qualified with distinction in garden design. With more than 20 years’ experience, within the landscaping and garden design industry. Leigh has project managed and constructed schemes across London and the South East, including nine RHS show gardens at both Chelsea and Hampton court Flower Shows. In addition to constructing his designs, Leigh and the Yoreland team build and manage garden projects and show gardens, for a number of award-winning garden designers