Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden
Experience | garden | Lavender Bay | Sydney North | New South Wales

Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden

A Hidden Slice of Paradise

by Susie Baber  |  15 May 2021

A five minute walk from either North Sydney or Milsons Point train stations, or a relaxed stroll along the harbour from Milsons Point is a hidden gem.

Artist Brett Whiteley and his wife Wendy lived in Lavender Bay together for two decades. It was here in their white terrace house that Brett painted many of his iconic Sydney Harbour pictures. Below the terrace, on a large area of unused railway land, is where Wendy built her garden.

The project began after Brett’s death in 1992. During her time of grief Wendy began attacking the overgrown rubbish on the large land filled valley at the foot of her house. She ripped out lantana, blackberry vines and privet, cleaned up dumped bottles, refrigerators and mattresses.

Wendy never asked any authorities for permission, and no one told her to stop, so she kept going. As she cleared the site, she began creating a garden like a giant painting, using aesthetics, colour, form, beauty and whimsy. She had no idea of the shape of this overgrown valley or what she would find when she started clearing up the rubbish on the site, let alone what could be grown there.

 “I didn’t know anything about horticulture when I started the garden. I just knew what I liked. I’ve since learnt what likes being here. It’s a symbiotic relationship between the plants, myself and my gardeners”.

Wendy Whiteley

Today the garden is a place of nooks and crannies where shrubs, both natives and exotics, herbs and towering trees run along winding paths. At the eastern end, a sprawling Port Jackson fig and camphor laurel; at the western end, a massive Moreton Bay fig. There is an abundance of birdlife and an eclectic collection of garden art and found items nestled among the greenery. Find yourself a spot to rest on one of the vast choice of seats, benches and tables for a picnic before you continue to explore the garden.

The garden is always open and entry is free. Read more here https://www.wendyssecretgarden.org.au/

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