Native garden display a crowning glory in Olinda

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Inspired by the natural beauty of its Dandenong Ranges location, a new native garden display is now open in Olinda, on Wurundjeri Country.

The ‘Australian Garden’ exhibit was the first Australian entry to win Gold and Best in Show at the London Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show in 2013.

It has now been recreated in the Dandenong Ranges in a push to entice visitors to get into nature and explore the region.

As a local, Phillip Johnson is excited for the community to finally experience his labour of love.

'This garden was originally designed for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,' he said.

'And now, 10 years later, I’ve designed this for our whole community to connect to Country.

'I think visitors when they walk through this garden are going to be quite overwhelmed by the immense beauty we have created here.'

It might come as a surprise, but Phil sees things in a different way. It wasn’t until after he won the prestigious award at Chelsea that he revealed his colour blindness.

'Look at Mother Nature, did she have a colour wheel?

'No, it’s random and nature is random and that’s my inspiration,' he said.

'At school, my mum used to write all the names of the colours on my pencils and textas so I knew which one to use!'

Phil is proud to embrace his difference and urges others to use it to their advantage. He said being colour blind as a landscape designer is a great opportunity because everything is seen in a different light.

'You see colour in different ways, you see foliage in different ways,' he said.

Cameras have been installed at various vantage points around the garden, including within the steel petals of the eight-metre high waratah sculpture, to provide people from all over the world with the opportunity to enjoy the garden’s beauty. When live, people will be able to explore the garden virtually.

The Chelsea Australian Garden at Olinda is now open at 24 The Georgian Road, Olinda. Entry is free.

The new garden was supported by $3.8 million from the Victorian Government, $2.2 million from the Federal Government and $340,000 in funds raised by the People and Parks Foundation.

Plan your visit to the gardens.