Inspired by the Shakers of New England, Tasha and several friends invented a "religion" called Stillwater (which wasn't so much a religion as an excuse to get together, hold tea parties, and dress up in fancy, antique clothes). "Stillwater connotes something very peaceful, you see, life without stress...Life is to be enjoyed, not saddled with. Joy is there for the taking. That's the first commandment of the Stillwater religion." (Tasha Tudor, The Private World of Tasha Tudor). Every Midsummer's Eve Tasha and her family had what they called a "Stillwater Party" that usually included a marionette show, square dance, and a large bowl of cold, refreshing Stillwater Punch. Guests of our Corgi Cottage tours enjoy cups of Stillwater Punch after ambling through Tasha's home and garden and always ask for the recipe! Enjoy Stillwater Punch after a long day of gardening, swimming, or at your own Midsummer's Eve party. You just might make some new Stillwater converts yourself!
In the fullness of summer, on the longest day of the year, Tasha threw a party. Late June was always peak flower season so at this time of year Tasha invariably heard from friends and admirers requesting a visit to her exquisite garden. Always one for mixing efficiency with pleasure, Tasha decided to host an event every year on the summer Solstice where friends, family, and admirers could come marvel at her vibrant garden while also enjoying live music, dancing, food, and more!
Every year at about this time, we at Tasha Tudor and Family tend to be busy sprucing up Tasha’s garden, giving the Rookery a good spring-cleaning, and preparing nametags for the fortunate folks who will be joining us for tours of Corgi Cottage starting June 9th. There is an air of quiet anticipation and excitement, knowing that soon we will be opening up our doors to friends, old and new, from all over the world, to share the delightful world of Tasha Tudor. It is always such a pleasure to witness the joy that comes over our tour-guests as they experience Corgi Cottage, whether it’s for the first time or the fifth!
Forget-me-nots! Oh, the forget-me-nots! Spring brings them to us. Like a Monet painting, the sky is a mirror of blue upon the ground. Broad swaths of heavenly blue grace the landscape of Tasha’s gardens and frame the buds and blossoms of flowering crabs and lilacs, soft shades of pinks and lavender, white, too. Alongside the paths, the ground is thick with violets, and Quaker Ladies lend a softer hue of blue to the marshy open areas of the wildflower garden.
Clover rolls are a lovely accompaniment to a spring dinner! Winslow Tudor writes of them in The Tasha Tudor Family Cookbook:
"A Clover Roll is merely three small balls of bread dough baked together in a muffin pan. After baking they are easily separated into three pieces, and their managable size is useful around a busy or crowded table. Tasha often made these rolls with extra dough from other bread receipts. She had affection for this receipt's name, as she often found four-leaf clovers when she walked through clover patches. She pressed them between pages of the books in her library and it is easier to find them there than out in the lawns. Once she found a seven-leaf clover and hung it in a small frame on her east bedroom wall."
It is not widely known that when Tasha was born her parents originally named her Starling Burgess after her father, the renowned Yacht designer, William Starling Burgess. It was only after reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace that her father fell in love with the name Natasha and decided to rechristen baby Starling “Tasha”. Tasha’s mother, Rosamond Tudor, was just as literary and saw to it that Tasha was exposed to classical literature at an early age. Many evenings were spent reading Greek myths, Shakespeare and classics such as Moby Dick aloud as a family. And so a lifelong love of reading began. Among Tasha’s favorite books were Lang's Fairy Books of Many Colors.
In the late 1940’s, about the time when many American homes were being outfitted with the newest modern conveniences, Tasha Tudor moved to a run-down (one could say, dilapidated) 1789 New Hampshire farmhouse with no electricity, no running water, and no heat besides a few wood stoves. She was also a mother of two small children. While to some, this combination of circumstances might sound harrowing, for Tasha it was a dream realized.
I remember hearing someone ask my grandmother which season she preferred best. She explained she liked them all, and that when one ended she looked forward to the next. I don’t recall her exact words in answer to that question, but imagine it was a good explanation of her views on the matter. In any event, by the time winter ended she was always ready for spring.
"Gardening has untold rewards...I've never been depressed in my whole life and I've never had a headache."
Even into her late 80's Tasha Tudor could be seen weeding, planting, pruning, and generally tending to her beloved garden as soon as warmer weather arrived. She attributed her longevity and good health to three things: fresh goat's milk, garlic, and gardening. To help us all get in the gardening spirit (and reap such wonderful "untold rewards") we are putting the entire Tasha's Secret Garden section of our online store on sale for 20% off! Starting at 8 am EST on Monday, May 1st through 12 midnight EST on Wednesday, May 3rd you can use coupon code SECRETGARDEN20 at checkout to receive the 20% discount!
“I haven't any modesty when it comes to my garden. I'll boast like mad.” -Tasha Tudor
For Tasha Tudor, much of the year revolved around planning, planting, and maintaining her exquisite garden. In the still of winter, Tasha poured over seed catalogues in search of favorite vegetable varieties and exotic blooms. Seed packets would arrive in March, much anticipated. But it wasn’t until April and early May that the ground had thawed enough to put seeds into the earth. Even before all the snow melted Tasha could be seen, barefoot and clad in her ever-present gardening scarves and apron, checking up on the growth and well-being of her beloved plant friends. By June, at long last, the garden was alive with the bright green of new leaves and a riot of color so pleasing to the eye from the many flowers--periwinkle forget-me-nots, pink, orange, and cream hollyhocks, purple columbine and more--that surrounded Corgi Cottage in such exuberant beauty. There is nothing so glorious as Vermont in full bloom.