It’s hard to imagine Wendy’s Secret Garden being a run down, over-grown, under-appreciated patch of land — but that’s precisely what it was before Wendy Whiteley began working her magic. Nestled on the harbour’s edge at Lavender Bay, the garden is no longer much of a secret.
Wendy began transforming the once derelict spot into a garden following the death of her artist ex-husband, Brett Whiteley, in 1992. Nearly a decade later Wendy suffered another great loss when her daughter Arkie, an actress, died of cancer in 2001. The ashes of both Brett and Arkie are now buried in Wendy’s garden.
The NSW Government owns the land Wendy restored. So that the garden can continue being enjoyed by the public long into the future, the land is leased to the local council on a 30 year renewable lease. The lease is a win for all who love the garden, and of course, for Wendy, who welcomed news of the lease in 2015, telling ABC news:
“It will become a collaboration now instead of having a slightly worrying feeling that somebody could arrive with a bulldozer someday or a chainsaw or something and it could all be gone overnight,” Ms Whiteley said. “I can’t quite grasp it yet. It’s still a bit unreal.”