Owning my garden shop in Second Life, which has flourished so much from being just a mere flower-ridden cottage at the bottom floor of our Balu Island residence to being revised and raised up in the sky as some astral space observatory-themed shop and now finally transforming into the sky garden I’d always dreamed of, but never had the resources to develop, we find a plentiful amount of walks of life strolling through the Songbird Garden. Our garden was complete at the end of November 2011 and ever since, some bystanders come to glance at a shop that has more than just general department store-like windows and life-sized photographs of products but an actual garden beyond it to further demonstrate why it’s indeed the Songbird Garden.
I’m proud of this store conjured from my own dreams because it’s indeed something I created all on my own and am so happy to share this vision with the rest of Second Life, and even my parents who can feel my love for nature through this platform. The shop had gone through so many incarnations and this final version represents achieving my dream of having the willpower and resources to build it, and I’m grateful for the positivity I was given every step of the way. My friend encouraged me and sat with me through the many, many days of building this sky garden, one grass strand at a time and made me feel empowered enough to pull off such a tedious task.
In Songbird Garden, you can meander through our garden houses, one offering sound products and the other avatar shapes, which are named after various plants, trees, and flowers and inspired by the lore of each. Even in the back of the semi-greenhouse you can spot new shapes sprouting from beyond. Our shop has bloomed into an ideal place for hunt events to take place, hosts of such hunts love to see gifts hidden beneath the flowers we plant in our garden as part of the hunt itself. If you find the hunt item beneath this particular clued flower, you receive a gift from our shop and it’s brought in quite a crowd.
From Neko girls crawling on all fours sniffing around from the hunt item beneath the trees – we currently have a “Hollywood Walk of Fame Hunt” going on right now where we chose Snow White (Yes, she has her own star!) and hide the object under a lush apple tree to “The Penitent Hunt“, celebrated through the purple heart gift box under the towering lily of the valleys, a flower relevant to religious repentance- to child avatars browsing the free monthly goodies on our table, we’ve literally seen every type of avatar there is in Second Life.
As for activities though? While developing a new product for our shop in our cottage at the edge of the garden, our manager and I spoke over voice chat until we noticed a dark-haired man lingering beneath the tree. We could hear the shots of his camera and thought perhaps he was only taking photographs of our garden, flattering in itself. Shortly enough, he brought a few models with him, girls who sported outfits from wedding gowns to light-hearted, pin-up dresses, one model even wore an avatar shape she’d purchased at our shop previously.
I’d only been to the bigger gardens such as Alirium where people took any sorts of pictures (most photographers enjoy using a green screen and making a backdrop in Adobe Photoshop) but only few places in Second Life are so impeccably worthy to receive actual attention from a photographer with models and I felt honored to be one of them. Our store manager, and real life friend, asked me how it made me feel and I could say, “Nothing short of proud, I’m so glad we built this garden that everyone enjoys spending time in, whether to listen to the gentle Cecile Corbel’s harp over our self-made radio station, to shop around, or to explore beyond the store deep into the garden and perhaps take a picture. Our shop should feel honored now.”
I never thought I’d have any professional photographer or long-time models for various Second Life products meander in and sit amongst our purple and pink-peppered wildflowers nor rest near the lofty tree and pose, but I think it’s safe by this point to say I’ve seen every sort of activity here at the Songbird Garden and will eagerly search every store and blog to discover our garden photographed that evening. Second Life is the only platform in which I could develop something from my dreams and overall imagination and transform it into a complete reality to share with everyone who wishes to traipse through my garden reverie while listening to the fairy-like sounds of Studio Ghibli films, and I’m grateful for this.