Creating a garden path with a barbed wire grass edge

The clump of Barbed Wire Grass along the edge my garden path grew from wind blown seed. It gave me so much joy to see this plant which miraculously found its way to the edge of the path.

Then I noticed Mother Nature at work again. One-by-one three little grass seedlings appeared in a line on a bare patch of sand just off the main path. I could easily have mistaken them for weeds, but as they grew I realised they were native grasses of some sort. During a dry spell, each time I watered the banana plants nearby they had a little sprinkle of water too. Before long they were swaying in the breeze.

Then seed heads appeared. More Barbed Wire Grass, growing in a line creating an impromptu path to the banana patch and the wilder part of the garden where I let the natural vegetation reign. I call this ‘Zeroscaping” – Mother Nature plants a seed, you just need to notice, wait, then marvel at the design.


It prompts an artistic response too. I placed some mosaic tiles in a line to to create a more defined path. They are temporary with some round stepping stones underway, started at the Easter Sunday Mosaic Workshop.

Plant Notes: Cymbopogon refractus is a clump-forming Australian native perennial that is 1m in height when in flower from December to March.  Its seed heads,  look like barbedwire, hence the common name.  In a garden setting, it makes an unusual edging for a path, could be grown in swathes or used as the part of a layered planting. This grass needs no fertilising, can be cut back after it flowers and is easy to grow and maintain.

Wendy’s Secret Garden


West of the Divide (1972-3), Brett Whiteley’s polyptych work snaked along two walls of the Brett Whitely Studio in Surry Hills Sydney, inviting us to admire it in its entirety before  swooping  in to look at the detail.  Upstairs we sat on the leather couch absorbing the enthusiasm and knowledge of the woman from the Art Gallery of NSW.

Yet curiously, we left feeling sad. Was it us, or something about the space that we loved so much on entering, or was it the soul that inhabited it? We resolved to find Wendy’s Secret Garden as an antidote to the damp melancholy that had inexplicably engulfed us.





Wendy Whiteley has poured her heart and soul into this beautiful place, creating a unique public garden in front of her home at Lavender Bay for all to enjoy. It lifted our spirits as we soaked up the magic its colours, textures shapes and sounds. There were little touches of whimsy that made us smile, and winding paths leading us to open spaces or places to pause.






“The garden sits across a sloping parcel of land owned by the NSW Government, bordered by the formal lawns of Clark Park on the high side and an old railway siding running parallel to the harbour foreshore below. The rambling, multi-leveled garden has evolved in response to Wendy’s singular vision, her strong aesthetic sense and the challenging site itself. Stories of her hard work to regenerate this once derelict site soon spread and dedicated gardeners and volunteers came to assist with the project. Together they have established a tranquil oasis or ‘hidden’ sanctuary – a public garden that offers balance and some breathing space to the commercial and fast-paced commuter life close by. This is an enriching and enchanting place to stop, reflect and picnic while taking in the panoramic views captured so famously by Brett Whiteley in his Sydney Harbour paintings from the 1970s.”

North Sydney Public Art Trail