Rhododendron Society brings Olinda Police Station’s garden to life

Olinda Police with the Australian Rhododendron Society Victoria. Pictures: PARKER MCKENZIE

By Parker McKenzie

Within the lobby of Olinda Police Station, a newspaper clipping hangs on the wall showing the garden which decorated the old police station down the road.

When Sergeant Richard (Roy) Higgins first came to Olinda Police Station 18 months ago, he saw the difference between the current landscape and the heritage police station’s garden and knew he wanted to do something about it.

“When I came out and looked at our garden, I thought it looked just like a barren desert,” he said.

“Why can’t we make it exactly the same? It might not happen fast, but in 10 years’ time, it should be exactly what the old police station used to be.”

He decided to approach the Australian Rhodendron Society, who looked after the nearby Dandenong Ranges Botanical Gardens, to plant a new garden outside the station.

Prue Crome from the Society said the garden would feature different colours and varieties of the plant when they matured.

“It’ll probably start looking good in about two or three years and then at some point down the track in 10 to 15 years they will get too big,” she said.

“Roy is going to sort out a sign to promote the society. Rhododendrons are actually really tough plants.”

The brightly coloured plants usually bloom sometime between late winter and early summer.

Sergeant Higgins said it was important to recognise the hard work of the Rhododendron Society for not only the police station, but Olinda as a whole.

“Without them and their efforts, we couldn’t get it done,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out.”

The Australian Rhodendron Society is one of the many volunteer groups throughout the Dandenong Ranges we have highlighted for National Volunteer Week.

This year’s theme is Better Together, as volunteering brings people together, builds communities and creates a better society for everyone – which is very present in this project between the Olinda Police and the Australian Rhodendron Society.

For more, turn to pages 5 to 7.