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  • Ellen Mary

Wendy’s Secret Garden in Sydney

Whenever I travel I always seek out the unknown gardens. I visit most gardens, parks, well know botanical gardens with everything you could ask for in a garden.

But it’s the ‘secret’ gardens that give me all the gardening feels.

Wendy’s secret garden was one I wanted to visit a few years back on my last trip to Australia but I got distracted by the heady scent of Jasmine on the streets of Balmoral that guide the soul to the coast. This time, I fought the urges to swim in the crystal blue sea to head over to Kirribilli where this secret garden was hidden.

Only it wasn’t actually hidden. Over the years Wendy’s garden has become much more well known, I’m sure partly to do with social media, so the lack of signage made no difference because anyone visiting this particular spot in Kirribilli, was most definitely walking up the steps to find Wendy’s garden. I was surprised the garden wasn’t a secret given it’s title but I was no less surprised by what I found.

Do you ever find a gem and feel emotional. I do frequently these days, my connection with the planet gives me a deep appreciation of its majestic capabilities and sometimes on entering a surprise space...that’s when I get those feels!

Wendy tended to public land in front of her house to deal with the grief of losing her husband. Gardening became her therapy and little did she know how much that would grow. It almost felt intrusive on Wendy’s grief when I looked up at her house in full view of the garden entrance but I realised sharing the garden and giving to the community is part of that grief process that eventually turned into a life of love for plants. I felt privileged that Wendy feels able to share that me. And everyone else there.

From painters using watercolours to capture the water beyond the trees, to work colleagues chatting over lunch on a bench in the shade. Everyone was sharing the grief, the love, the plants.

The winding paths took me on many levels passing huge trees to Strelizia, Ferns, Clivia, Monstera (basically many UK houseplants that grow well in the Oz climate) plus Geraniums, Nasturtiums, Erigeron mixed in...a distinct English garden twist. Not forgetting the Lavender, since this is in Lavender Bay with the stunning views across the glistening harbour water.

Visiting gardens is a lifelong hobby for me, to learn and to relax, but the gardens that I really ‘get’ are the ones with a story, the way the plants tell that story and how it makes my heart feel. If I get that feeling of love for the people behind it, the plants that have provided therapy and the nature sharing it...that’s when I know it’s a garden for me.


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