Barri Bernier told me that “it was Garth’s idea to buy it.” Garth Mudge (the Winthrop glassblower) will accept the rap, but Barri is the most passionate of the two about their new property, which they purchased with an inheritance from a relative.
The couple bought a tree! With a plot of land beneath it, certainly, but there’s no question that it’s the tree they were buying when the “sold” sign went up on two of the four parcels next to the Riverbank building and across from the post office on Glover Street.
The tree is a Northern red oak of undetermined age (though Barri is researching that). It’s enough to say that it’s beautiful, big and, until Barri and Garth bought it, dwindling from lack of water.
“It’s the biggest plant she’s ever bought,” Garth says. “And the most expensive.”
“I love trees,” Barri says. “I climbed lots of them as a child growing up in Virginia.” Barri is serious about loving trees and other plants. She sent me a favorite childhood poem as well:
When I grow up I want to be a tree
Want to make my home with the birds and the bees
And the squirrels, they can count on me
When I grow up to be a tree
Barri is a passionate gardener, a fellow Marylander (during her teen years) who studied art and biology at Towson State University, worked at various nurseries in the area, and later, worked with native plants, managed a greenhouse and did restoration work for the National Park Service after dropping out of Towson State and moving to Colorado. She finished college later. She and Garth lived in Estes Park, Colorado, before moving to their place on the Twisp-Winthrop Eastside Road near Winthrop. Her large gardens there includes flowers and vegetables.
Barri is hoping that the Town of Twisp will establish an account that allows them to turn off the irrigation (and not pay a water bill) during the winter. Barri’s research found that the tree needs 30-80 inches of water per year, well more than the skies of the valley provide.
Watch to see how the tree grows now that it has new owners. And expect some improvements to the property. Whatever changes Barri and Garth make will not do damage to the oak or its companion ash, they say.
If you haven’t been going to the Saturday Farmers Market in Twisp, here are a few things you’ve missed in the past few weeks: Willowbrook Farm’s veggies; a Scottish Highlander heifer (fuzzy and sweet and bigger than a big dog) that Eric Wittenbach and Cameron Green brought to delight us all; Fred Cooley’s roving troubadour routine, singing and strumming his guitar as he strolled through the market; Kay Lee cranking the roaster as her garden crop of Poblano and Anaheim peppers blackened until they were ready for Reba Baudino to scrape and Flora Abuan to hand over to shoppers; “Pie Lady” Joanne Burch’s apple dumplings; Nan Walker’s dahlias; the Murrays’ apples; and Smallwood Farm’s peaches.
Seven more Saturday markets to go — the last is on Oct. 31, Halloween.