Being a lover of nature, an expert on birds and a gentleman of leisurely interests, there are few things Binkie van Es would rather do that putter around in his garden, trimming and repotting his beloved ferns, flowers and trees. A daily ritual, the garden offers more than a hobby for this Kooyman administrator – it’s a passion that gives him a lot of pleasure. His feathered friends seem to like it too.

Birds are always drawn to his property in Dawn Beach Estates, and the hillside behind his 22-year-old home is breezy and shaded, with a view of the sea. The Lesser Antillean bullfinch, bananaquit, green throated Carib hummingbird, Antillean crested hummingbird, pearly eyed thrashers, grey kingbirds, common ground doves, Zenaida doves, Eurasian collared doves, white-winged Doves: “I sit here and they come and enjoy the greenery, they are very special.” Other birds he sees from time to time include the green heron, cattle egret, American kestrel and barn swallows. “From my garden, I can see seabirds flying like magnificent frigate birds, royal terns, pelicans,” he notes,

Nature is his sanctuary and his garden reflects all that it has to offer. A lily-pad covered pool allows for the sounds of water dripping, peaceful and meditative. He tells of regular frog concerts in the evenings after a rain, all the chirrups and tweeps blending in a slow relaxing beat that seems to never stop. “It’s most probably Johnstone’s Whistling Frog,” he informs his facebook followers.

The home hugs the hillside, with a steep driveway off the main road. He had it built in 1994 off designs a family member drew up. “We started with the kitchen and drew the house around it. The kitchen is very important; I wanted it to be roomy. I love to cook. Next to that, my favourite part of the house is the deck. This is where I go to rest and contemplate; it’s also great for entertaining.” The house has three bedrooms and three baths – a comfy retreat for Binkie and his wife Inirida.

A few months ago, Binkie decided to expand his garden around the corner of his house where he put the focus on his rather extensive fern collection. Ferns thrive in warm and moist shaded areas; they produce neither seeds nor flowers, but reproduce asexually via spores. The ferns adorning Binkie’s shaded alcove provide a lush green texture with myriad delicate patterns of branching leaves. The effect is mesmerizing. Tucked in between the foliage is an outdoor shower, a Buddha’s gentle countenance and a few orchids for good measure.

Shipping palettes were utilized for the outer walls, but the craftsman shaped the wooden edges, cleaned and varnished the slats, and kept the organic flow of air in and out, so one would hardly recognize them as scrap lumber.

When not caring for his garden, Binkie often takes teachers out into the field, conducting BirdSleuth Workshops in his free time, as a volunteer for Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC). His hope is to excite the teachers so they can pass on the enthusiasm of birding and nature in general to their students.