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Garden Road Trip: Olinda


Cloudehill. Photo - Jeremy Francis


Stands of giant mountain ash and lush tree ferns adorn even the roadsides around Olinda, in the Dandenong Ranges, just outside Melbourne. 


Landscape designer and local, Philip Johnson shared some favourite horticultural haunts. 


Jeremy Francis’ beautiful arts and crafts garden features intimate garden rooms, and wilder more open spaces. The creative, thoughtful and knowledgeable planting is always inspiring and in autumn the maples are glowing, and the summer-flowering perennials are at their most romantic.


Cloudehill in autumn. Photo - Claire Takus

National Rhododendron Garden

Famed for its rhodos, azaleas, and cherries, there is still plenty to love (and fewer crowds to share it with) in autumn. The early camellias are in flower, the fern gullies are dotted with mighty Mountain Ash and the views of the Yarra Valley are breathtaking.


Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden

Alfred Nicholas and his brother George developed the painkiller Aspro. With some of the proceeds Alfred bought land in the Dandenongs and built what became Burnham Beeches Estate. The wonderful gardens are now owned and operated by Parks Victoria, and are known for their canopy of awe-inspiring mountain ash, picturesque waterfalls and ponds, and iconic lake and boathouse. The garden is one of Philip Johnson’s favourite hideaways, particularly in May, when the leaves of the surrounding gingkos float on the surface of the ponds like yellow butterflies.



Good food makes for a perfect day out. Try these:


The Piggery, Sherbrooke

Melbourne star chef Shannon Bennett’s country place is relaxed, with bread fresh from the oven, salads, snags and burgers.


Kallista Deli, Kallista

This is Philip Johnson’s go-to. He favours the chicken and avocado baguette.


Seasons restaurant, Olinda

Look over the Cloudehill gardens and enjoy a light or a long lunch of seasonal and local produce. 


Text: Robin Powell

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Author: Robin Powell