Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden
When I was in Sri Lanka, I used to go to Diyatha Uyana to enjoy food and to Nawala Wali-Park on Saturdays to enjoy calypso music. The habit continued after migrating.
Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden is my favourite park in NSW which motivates me to go to work every day. It’s in a walking distance from my office so most days I go there during lunch hour. Overlooking the Lavender Bay and the iconic Sydney Harbour bridge, this beautiful flowery garden brings joy to busy urban life.
The emotional story behind this lovely garden goes as;
“Wendy and her renowned artist husband, the late Brett Whiteley, set up their family home in Lavender Bay in 1970 and lived there together for two decades. In the weeks that followed Brett’s death in 1992, Wendy’s grief-stricken heart needed to regain some control in her life, she began creating a garden like a giant painting. Wendy never asked any authorities for permission, and no one told her to stop, so she kept going. The creative joys of the artist-cum-gardener, however, were again extinguished when, in 2001, Wendy’s greatly loved daughter, her only child, Arkie, died at age thirty-seven. Numb with grief, Wendy hurled herself into the daily garden toil with even more ferocity.”
Some people when their loved ones depart, take a destructive route such as drugs to ease the pain. Wendy sets an example for the broken hearts with her amazing creativity and effort she has put on the garden she made in the memory of her deceased husband and daughter.
The light-house shaped building in the garden is Wendy Whiteley’s family home, where she lived for more than 20 years with her husband.
There are multiple entrance points to the Secret garden. When you reach the garden, first you will feel it’s a quite small one. But as you walk through its maze-like walking tracks, you realise it covers a large area overlooking the Lavender Bay. The garden has everything you want; tree shades, sunny areas, benches, huts, grass to roll on, statues, chirping birds, butterflies, water sprinklers, a rockface, a cliff, walking tracks along the water side and zigzag paths in between large trees. The variety of flora in the Secret garden ranging from palm trees to orchids is beyond comparison. The multitude and magnitude of the garden will surprise you.
Whenever you go there, you’ll find people sun bathing, reading books or having snacks in the garden. The breeze coming from the Lavender Bay will soothe your skin. Without a glimpse of the Secret garden, my work days would be tiresome.
On one of the stone tables in the garden, you will find a guest book. In it you’ll find amazing notes thanking Wendy for her creation and lovely poems jotted by visitors. When all the pages of a guest book are full with all shapes of hand writing, Wendy replaces it with a new guest book. I was lucky to put down a note admiring Wendy’s Secret garden on the very first page of the 37th Guest book.
December is my favourite month to visit the Secret garden, because the warmth of the sun and the falling petals of Jacaranda flower trees creates a heaven on earth in December. If you ever visit North Sydney on leisure or work, make sure you set your foot in this amazing place at least once. Don’t forget to pack a snack when you visit the garden. Just sit on the grass under a large tree and have your snack watching the Lavender Bay, you’ll thank me for the recommendation and you will thank Wendy Whiteley for giving you one of the best days of your life.