Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Anne Who?

Flower beds at Green Gables, Cavendish, PEI
"The Barry garden was a bowery wilderness of flowers which would have delighted Anne's heart at any time less fraught with destiny. It was encircled by huge old willows and tall firs, beneath which flourished flowers that loved the shade. Prim, right-angled paths neatly bordered with clamshells, intersected it like moist red ribbons, and in the beds between old-fashioned flowers ran riot. There were rosy bleeding-hearts and great splendid crimson peonies; white, fragrant narcissi and thorny, sweet Scotch roses; pink and blue and white columbines and lilac-tinted Bouncing Bets; clumps of southernwood and ribbon grass and mint; purple Adam-and-Eve, daffodils, and masses of sweet clover white with its delicate, fragrant, feathery sprays; scarlet lightning that shot its fiery lances over prim white musk-flowers; a garden it was where sunshine lingered and bees hummed, and winds, beguiled into loitering, purred and rustled."
Anne of Green Gables (Unabridged Classics) 

 - Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

For those of you who know of the Anne of which I speak you might be surprised to find that the above quote is from a book that is often regarded as a children's classic.  Did you realize that L.M Montgomery loved flowers?  If you don't know who Anne is then let me introduce you.

In 1908 the female author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Prince Edward Island, Canada, published her first novel.  It was titled Anne of Green Gables.  Prince Edward Island is known for several things - red roads, white sand beaches, lobster, and golf.  But what brings people in droves is Anne - spelled with an 'E' please!  Anne of Green Gables is the tale of a girl who has lived a difficult life in foster homes and orphanages.  At the age of eleven she is adopted by an elderly brother and sister couple from Prince Edward Island.  Anne is an engaging girl who never fails to amuse us with her keen instinct for trouble and her struggles to be 'angelically good'.  She elicits our compassion with her story of hard luck and her generous heart.

I loved this book as a child and I think many children empathize with Anne and the trials of growing up.  Reading this book as an adult and a gardener I am amazed at how this book has changed for me over the years.  Lucy Maud Montgomery loved flowers and this book is littered with references to the natural world around her.  From the Haunted Wood to the Violet Vale, the beautiful scenery of PEI is captured in print.
Green Gables, Cavendish, PEI
Assorted Facts:
  • L.M. Montgomery based Green Gables on the real life farm of David Jr. and Margaret Macneill who were cousins of her grandfather.  The farm is still standing and is located in Cavendish, PEI in the Cavendish National Historic Site.

  • All but one of L.M. Montgomery's 20 novels feature Prince Edward Island as the main setting.

  • In a personal letter to Lucy Maud Montgomery, Mark Twain called the character of Anne the "most lovable childhood heroine since the immortal Alice."

Favourite Quote
Anne Shirley commenting on city life -
"I think I would probably come to the conclusion that I'd like it for a while... but in the end, I'd still prefer the sound of the wind in the firs across the brook more than the tinkling of crystal."


  1. Anne of Green Gables...favourite series of all time. I was surprised when I moved here to North Carolina, about just how many Americans love these books as well. I sell the miniseries at work all the time (I don't know if you know, but I work as the music department manager at Barnes & Noble). My mum's name is Shirley Ann, and you have no idea how much she would have rather been Anne Shirley lol :D

  2. I love the Anne of Green Gables stories. Such a Canadian classic! That she was an avid garden doesn't surprize me. When you listen to the way she writes. She describes the landscape in her books the way only a gardener could :)

  3. I think I will have to go back and reread them from a gardeners point of view.

  4. I loved Anne of Green Gables as a little girl it was one of my favorite books. But I could not have told you that it took place of Prince Edwards Island. I will have to go back and re-visit the book and read it from an adults perspective.

    I live in North Carolina, and I could not have told you it was a Canadian book. Probably as a child it did not mean anything to me.

  5. Good old PEI! I was a huge Anne fan. Those books are classics for a reason.

    In fact, I read them so devotedly that I almost think I remember the place in the book it comes from. Is it when Diana and Anne first meet and become bosom friends? :)

  6. When I call myself 'Diana of Elephant's Eye' I hear in my mind the rhythm of 'Anne of Green Gables' A book I read once as a child, that stays in my mind. No idea it was set in Canada. Am going to have to find a copy to read again!

  7. I was such a fan that in the early 60s my parents took us on a family vacation to PEI (from so. New England) specifically so we could visit Anne's house. How I remember it. But I wasn't into gardens then, and I didn't notice all the floral references. I have some rereading to do!

    I'm enjoying your story of Canoe Corner and how you arrived there... hope to see renovations and new gardens as they emerge!

  8. Great minds think alike! I have the Ontario component of Lucy Maud Montgomery story covered in the post I did last Sunday. Together we have the whole story.
    I have been to Green Gables, but it was years ago and I don't remember it well. The garden there looks beautiful.

  9. Wow, seems everyone's a fan of Anne! I knew Canadians liked her and I've realized recently that Japanese are also huge fans but it seems every country has some affection for this book.

    @Meredith, yes Anne lives on the farm of Green Gables and Diana is a neighbour girl. They all live in the village of Avonlea which was based on the real life village of Cavendish.

    @ThreeDogs, loved your post. I had no idea about Montgomery's life in Ontario. Today Green Gables has a beautiful kitchen garden and is surrounded by flower gardens. They're really lovely and I hope to post more photos in the next week.

  10. Okay, I'm still wandering around your blog finding things that others have commented on long ago. And here is this post on Anne. When I was 13 I made my parents take me to PEI, specifically because of the Montgomery book which I adored (we lived in southern New England, no small journey). I so clearly remember this house and the red dirt roads and the seafood dinners we ate and the views of the ocean. How you have brought back a childhood memory!

  11. Laurrie - I'm glad you're enjoying reading the blog. Seems this Anne post reminded a lot of people of their favourite red head. I just love how this book has changed for me over the years and I can still read it as an adult and enjoy it in a whole new way.