Chelsea “Best in Show” Garden

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.