This ten acre field was originally used for nursery production, although after 10 years Harold Hillier was running out of space for his private plant collection so he decided to add it to his arboretum. Trees such as the impressive wing-nut, Pterocarya x rhederiana were original nursery plantings and thus had a head start.
The two halves have a very different character with Ten Acres West being an open woodland, covered with daffodils and a notable collection of magnolias. Particularly striking in spring, is Magnolia stellata, in several forms. A rare species in its native Japan, this is popular in gardens for its modest size, and its freely produced starry flowers. Plant collector Ernest Wilson said of them, No group of trees and shrubs is more favourably known or more highly appreciated in gardens than magnolias, and no group produces larger or more abundant flowers.”
Although the spring-flowering magnolias are the best known, the display here continues well into summer with charming species such as M. sieboldii and M. wilsonii. At the southern edge of Ten Acres West can be found the Hydrangea Walk. Planted between 2001 and 2002, it has a series of woodland paths meandering through stands of mature camellias. While the camellias provide the main display through spring, the hydrangeas peak in mid to late summer and the flower heads even carry into autumn, dying gracefully with many selections of the mophead and lacecap forms of Hydrangea macrophylla as well as H. paniculata cultivars mixed with a variety of viburnums.
Ten Acres East is a more open meadow with specimen trees and shrubs. The grass is delightfully rich with yellow rattle and common spotted orchids. The mown paths take the visitor through a range of witch hazels, hollies, mature crab apples such as Malus hupehensis, which is covered in white flowers in spring and never fails to carry a heavy crop of small red fruits in autumn.
Autumn colour is a feature found in many of the witch hazel family Hamamelidaceae. These include Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica), several sweetgums (Liquidambar), fothergillas, and Corylopsis. Additional autumn colour is provided by Acer, Betula utilis as well as some of the more unusual and less frequently seen Nyssa sinensis.