What horse chestnuts best offer gardeners is nice young foliage that is often tinged as red or pink as many an Acer. The foliage is followed by striking flowers, conkers and then good autumn foliage. All these different qualities make them really good garden plants.
A particular favourite at Aberglasney is Aesculus wilsonii which has very neat dark green foliage and huge white flowers. A better one for a small garden is Aesculus californica which spreads from the base and generally has no trunk with more flowers, although these are smaller. If you want something for a particularly small garden then any of the dwarf varieties work well, for example Aesculus pavia ‘Rosea nana’ which is only about two meters tall and covered in apricot pink flowers. There is also a purple leaved form that is even better. The parent plant Aesculus pavia is more of a shrub and fills a large space well.
So far all the types we have tried at Aberglasney have done well although we find it is best to keep them out of the wind. They seem fine on most soils and even take boggy ground. Buying them is not so simple and you will need to visit a specialist tree or shrub nursery as they are surprisingly uncommon.