IT’S A CURIOUS THING
that as the desire for indoor-outdoor living has grown, the second element has literally shrunk. Yards and gardens are the casualties of our square-metred dreams, as homes increasingly expand towards property boundaries.
Before kids played their sports on screens, the garden or yard was a stadium for the imagination – a jonquil-scented retreat and, if you were of ornithological persuasion, a bird sanctuary. With a little naturally occurring timber and greenery, you could awake to a veritable Top 20 of trills, caws and whistles. That’s
‘most streamed’ to millennials. Not to mention the kookaburras, who thought it hilarious to start their serenade at six on Sundays.
At the bare minimum, all you had to do was install a few nectar-rich plants and sit back while the flying sugar junkies descended. But being Aussie, we somehow collectively decided that a bit more hospitality was in order. Especially since our feathered friends were adding so much to our garden experience.
As with most visitors to your home, they apparently craved two things straight up: a drink and a shower, which is why Aussies from Penrith to Peppermint Grove installed concrete birdbaths front and centre on the lawn. Initially, many were painted white and featured a fluted pattern on their stems. But over time, wind, water and weather did their bit so only the grey mottled cement render showed through, garlanded with the odd sprinkling of moss. Not only did the birdbaths make handy wickets for games of backyard cricket, but they functioned as virtual day spas for mamma pigeons who just needed some time for themselves.
Now that we’ve given them liquid refreshment in two forms, it’d be rude not to provide birds with somewhere to doss down for a night or three. Mini wooden chalets thus began to adorn our trees. Either left bare for their eventual occupants to furnish – #butcherbirdboho if you’re looking for a hashtag – or thoughtfully bedded with old newspaper strips, they hung from limbs in an era before wind chimes. And often sounded better, too.