The time came to try our hands at making a Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) tincture for bug bites and other skin irritations. The magical forest we live in extends its reach to exclude poison ivy from growing here. But if it grew here, this recipe would be good for poison ivy bites too. Like many of the most enjoyable projects, this one came on its own. We noticed. And we followed it.
A hot, humid, sunny, windless July day invariably brought an extra degree of happiness to Tasha, especially if she was gardening. By July the perfection of a June garden has mellowed into a green and pastel sprawl of perennials and annuals, some still in bloom but also preparing fruits and seeds.
Winter evenings brought to Tasha a quiet expanse of hours between the end of evening chores and bedtime. After the dishes were washed, dried and put away, the goats and chickens fed and watered, corgis walked and the canaries' cage covered with an old grey apron to diminish drafts, Tasha sat in her wooden rocker with the blue wool checked blanket over the back, put her feet up on a chair near the cook stove fender, and wrote letters. She wrote to family, friends, publishers and people she had not met but whose lives and endeavors were of interest to her.
By January the snow on the ground at Tasha’s home in Vermont is here to stay until spring. Tasha was always grateful for the snow and the cold. Her perennials were far more likely to come back in the spring if able to sleep beneath the snow, and the cold killed some of the diseases and troublesome insects that haunt all gardens. Her barn, house and animals were warmer when a nor’easter banked two feet of snow around the foundations and on the roof. She always commented on the beauty of blue shadowed snow immediately after a storm.
Tasha Tudor started her garden in Vermont nearly fifty years ago, yet brought to it many decades of prior knowledge and experience. It is a very old garden created with much wisdom. Pleasing to the eye, it possesses plants and a purpose beyond visual appeal. She called it “just a good messy garden.”
By this time of year the garden has been weeded for the last time, cleared of dried stems and brown leaves, and compost spread upon the beds. The ground will soon be frozen, and the long shadows that shield the frost on the grass for much of the day, arrive late and depart early. In between it is dark, for winter is here.