Most locals have to travel miles away for a tropical getaway, but Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin looks no further than his backyard. Seven years ago, Bolin planted a few elephant ears in his garden, which kick-started his landscaping project. His affinity for all things tropical inspired him to turn his yard on Evansville’s East Side into a calm oasis bursting with exotic flora.
“With my job, there’s a lot of stress,” says Bolin. “This is peaceful. It’s my way to deal with stress.”
Cultivating banana plants, flowering canna, and elephant ears requires dedication, but Bolin enjoys the meditative work. He spends much of his downtime watering, pruning, and watching his cherished garden grow.
“Every morning before I go to work I come out, walk around, and see how much has grown and what’s changed,” says Bolin.
Last year, a few handy members of the Evansville Police Department helped him construct a colorful tiki hut to take the garden to the next level. The hut originally was supposed to be a grill cover, but the project escalated into a seating area complete with a TV, tiki décor, an eclectic sticker collection, and beach-themed background music.
While digging ground for the hut, Bolin found an old soda can pop-top in his yard. He stuck it in the bottom of a flip flop and attached it to the hut’s tin roof as a tribute to Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville” lyric: “Blew out my flip flop/Stepped on a pop top.”
“I love the tiki hut,” says Bolin. “It’s my own little tropical paradise.”