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Sir Harold Hillier Gardens

Tree collection

Champion Trees

A champion tree is the best of its kind in its area. It might be the tallest, widest, thickest or oldest of a given tree species or cultivar. The Tree Register of the British Isles collates data of 1,000’s of champion trees. It is a reflection of the importance of the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens tree collection, that the 2011 Tree Register Handbook, lists the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens as having the highest number of champion trees in the British Isles.

Examples of the Gardens’ Champion Trees:

  • Populus candescens 'Macrophylla'

    Populus x canescens ‘Macrophylla’ is a rarely seen tree, with beautiful long straight trunk, silver grey leaf underside and impressive dimensions. The Gardens’ specimen has grown to 32 meters tall, in less than 60 years.

    Find the tree at the pond in the heart of the Gardens.


  • Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Emmerald Feathers’

    Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Emmerald Feathers’ is a cultivar of the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens’ emblem. A tree species native to China, it was only discovered in 1941 and introduced to the USA and Europe in 1948, being hailed one of the most important plant discoveries of the 20th century.

    Growing to 18 meters in fewer than 50 years, it has developed into the most wonderfully conical tree with fresh green soft foliage, giving rise to the name. The rusty copper brown bark covers a beautifully fluted trunk.


  • Oak leaves

    Quercus rysophylla, Loquat Leaved Oak is an evergreen tree, with only a few small populations known in its native Mexico, it a threatened species. The beautiful large leathery glossy evergreen leaves remind of the loquat tree and make this a most handsome tree. Grown from seed collected in 1979, this champion has grown to 18 meters in 30 years.


  • Eucalyptus nitens

    Eucalyptus nitens, commonly known as Shining Gum, can grow to be one of the tallest trees on the planet. Regularly reaching 60 meters in its native Australia, our tree, has grown to 34 meters in fewer than 50 years, already over shadowing its neighbouring trees.


  • Betula utilis jacquemontii 'Jermyns'

    Betula utilis ‘Jermyns’ is one of the best white stemmed Himalayan birches grown in the UK. Named by Harold Hillier after his family home, it has long showy catkins in spring and even older trees display the shiny white bark.


  • Acer saccarum ‘Newton Sentry'

    Acer saccarum ‘Newton Sentry’ is an extremely upright tree. Found by chance in the early 20th century in a cemetery called Newton in Boston, USA, it is of interest as a collectors plant yet rarely seen in cultivation. The bright yellow autumn foliage make it a feature besides the right upright habit.


  • Tilia ‘Harold Hillier’

    Tilia ‘Harold Hillier’ has a beautifully rounded crown and appears to grow to medium height. The tree in the Gardens has reached 15 meters in less than 40 years. Autumn colour is butter yellow. Another collectors tree not often seen, it was named by a plant breeder in honour of Sir Harold.



Search our database

Discover what plants are in the Gardens. The database search is provided by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE).

Start database search

Once you have submitted your query, to then find the location of the plant or group of plants within the Gardens you need to click onto the number shown next to 'No. of living accessions'.