If you ever find yourself wandering through the Lavender Bay Parklands along Sydney Harbour, you might end up stumbling across Wendy’s Secret Garden. If you do, don’t feel you must walk on by for fear of trespassing, members of the public are allowed (and encouraged!) to enter. Entry is free, look for the entry marked by the large Moreton Bay fig tree next to Wendy’s distinct, 4-storey home.
The origin of Wendy’s Secret Garden tells the story of the creation of something beautiful from pain. In 1992, Wendy’s husband, artist Brett Whiteley, passed away. To help cope with the grief she was feeling, Wendy spent her time clearing the rubbish and overgrown plants from the unused land next to her house. Once this was achieved, she began planting a garden, and thus Wendy’s Secret Garden was born.
There are many plants to see within the landscape of the garden, from the variegated bamboo to the different types of fig trees, and Arkie’s Bangalow Palms, which were a gift from Wendy’s late daughter. The garden also contains many sculptures and statues located throughout for the avid explorer to discover, and seats and benches on which to take a rest.
Despite the name, the secret garden isn’t so secret these days. In 2015, Janet Hawley published a book titled ‘Wendy Whiteley and the Secret Garden’ which detailed both Wendy and the garden’s story. The book was published at a time when there were fears that the garden would be subject to redevelopment. ABC’s Australian Story also shed light on the significance of the garden with an episode entitled ‘Wendy’s Way’, and in October 2015 Wendy’s Secret Garden was granted a 30-year lease ensuring it could be enjoyed by the public for years to come.
So, next time you’re walking through the Lavender Bay Parklands, why not stop in at Wendy’s Secret Garden and explore what Wendy calls “one of the worst kept secrets in Sydney”.
Events can also be held at the garden, but bookings must be made via the North Sydney Council website
For more information on Wendy’s Secret Garden, check out the website at: https://www.wendyssecretgarden.org.au/ .