Home Beautiful - - LAST WORD -

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.

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