Chelsea Australian Garden at Olinda

UPDATE: February 2023

The garden is nearing completion! The gorgeous, cascading waterfall and billabong are looking stunning. A wide variety of native Australian flora (many of which are threatened/endangered species) has been planted. Last week, dry weather enabled the final piece of major infrastructure to be installed – the Waratah Sculpture is in place! Access pathways are being completed, and we can’t wait to share the news with you as soon as the Garden is open to the public!


Construction officially commenced on the remarkable Chelsea Australian Garden at Olinda in April 2022. Since then, it’s been non-stop action for many months during a tough, wet winter to build the garden. Despite numerous challenges (mostly to do with weather), we’re very pleased to share the progress to date – which against all odds has been swift and stunning.

On Sunday 30 October, The Hon. Minister D’Ambrosio and The Hon. Minister Merlino were able to visit the garden to help plant the final Wollemi Pine. Even the rain stayed away for the occasion which was a welcome change!  The garden will be open to the public later this summer, please check back here for updates.

Here’s a little sneak peek of the latest construction shots, as well as a few from the Ministers’ visit showing off the almost-complete garden!

Phillip Johnson and The Hon. Minister D’Ambrosio and The Hon. Minister Merlino helping plant the last Wollemi in the garden.

We’re so proud to have played a significant role in raising the funds needed to build this incredible garden. We’d like to thank the many people and organisations who have contributed to make the construction of this stunning garden possible.

Thank you to the Australian Government and the Victorian State Government who funded the project and to the Trawalla Foundation, Bus Association Victoria, Belgrave Rotary, the Australian Plant Society Maroondah, and our many private donors for your support!

The award-winning garden will feature a dazzling array of Australian native plants, including rare and endangered species. The garden will be free to access and showcase the beauty, diversity, and sustainability of Australian native plants.

Some key facts about the Chelsea Australian Garden at Olinda. The Garden will:

  • cover an area just over 1.5 acres with a dramatic 14 metre level change
  • include 6 different microclimate zones
  • be home for 10,000 native plants from all around Australia
  • feature 60-70 rare and endangered species, including 22 of the incredibly ancient Wollemi Pines, some close to 3 metres in height from the Royal Botanic Gardens in NSW
  • include an extensive collection of plant specimens from the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Keep an eye on our social media channels, or visit this page for regular updates.


With the urgent need to connect more people with nature, we are pleased to partner with Phillip Johnson Landscapes – designer of the first and only Australian garden to win the prestigious Best in Show at the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show – to replicate his award-winning, sustainable design in the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Gardens.

This incredible design is not only a stunning display of Australian native plants, including rare and endangered natives from Gondwana, it is an exemplar of sustainability with water-wise design and habitat creation.  Phillip’s garden brings together horticultural science, breathtaking aesthetics, and a deep desire to connect people to the unique qualities of Australian nature.

As Phillip explained to Queen Elizabeth when she visited the garden at Chelsea, “We designed this landscape to connect humanity back to the beauty of nature.”

Phillip Johnson discussing his design with Queen Elizabeth and the Chelsea Flower Show, 2013.

A standout feature of the design is the Waratah Studio, with features designed specifically for Queen Elizabeth’s eye height.

As the centrepiece of the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden, the Chelsea Best in Show Garden, will showcase to visitors from far and wide what’s possible with native gardening, science and sustainable practices, even in our increasingly urban environments.

Phillip explains, “When Europeans came to Australia they replicated European gardens, which is reflected in many of our Botanic Gardens to this day.  But with our changing climate, these traditional gardens are increasingly difficult to sustain.

We want to develop and promote beautiful Australian natives that will survive and thrive in a sustainable way, in varied and challenging conditions.  Our Chelsea Best in Show Garden shows what’s possible in a breathtaking way.

We want everyone to experience the amazing, unique variety of Australian natives, to be connected to Australian nature, no matter where they live.”

Chelsea “Best in Show” garden, 2013

Just as in Chelsea, Phillip and his team are beginning with an expanse of lawn.  In this case, an old, disused golf course in the Dandenong Ranges, part of the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Gardens. What they will build there will be truly astonishing. Below are some images to help you see what is on site currently, and what could be after Phillip gets to work!









The Chelsea Best in Show Garden will be designed and constructed by Phillip Johnson Landscaping, who will work closely with Parks Victoria to maintain the garden for the first ten years of its life.  The total cost of the project is anticipated to be $4 million.

To kickstart the project, the Victorian government has released $1 million as part of its Growing Victoria’s Botanic Gardens grants program.

“Winning this best in show gold medal was an extraordinary achievement on the world stage. This will give everyone the opportunity to see the work of these highly talented and skilled individuals.” James Merlino, Member for Monbulk.


A project of this size involves many partners and supporters. As a start, Phillip and his team have signed up Parks Victoria and the People and Parks Foundation. We very much look forward to assisting delivery of this fantastic project.

“I was lucky enough to be connected to nature from a really young age and it inspired me to embark on this journey to try and connect more people, more families, back to nature. I think this garden clearly demonstrates the benefits of having more biodiversity in our urban environment – for human health and happiness, and for a healthy, sustainable future.” Phillip Johnson

Phillip, owner and founder of Phillip Johnson Landscapes and and Alison Hill, Managing Director of the People and Parks Foundation making the partnership official.

Environmental sustainability learnings, responsible water management and horticultural education is a key part of the project.

The Chelsea “Best in Show” Garden in the Dandenong Botanical Gardens will feature a massive variety of Australian plants.

“As trustee of an Environment Trust and a Registered Environment Organisation, furthering environmental education and connecting people to nature is at the heart of what we do at People and Parks Foundation.

This history-making project will also be a living, evolving environmental education project.  I encourage people to donate to ensure we can make this happen as soon as possible.”  Alison Hill, Managing Director, People and Parks Foundation.