“My Garden…the delight it has been to me…I am positively reveling in flowers- dozens of the most lovely blossoms. It is the greatest pleasure my days bring me, to go out to my garden every morning and see what new blossoms have opened overnight.- L.M. Montgomery
Did you know that the practice of the home garden has its roots in prehistoric times? It is hypothesized, based on evidence found, that “Forest Gardening” was a practice of identifying useful tree and vine species and utilizing, protecting, and improving them. After the emergence of established civilizations, the wealthy began to create aesthetically pleasing gardens, that while lovely, served no purpose other than to be pleasing to the eye. By Elizabethan times, cottage gardens were on the rise, created by the poor to provide themselves with herbs and vegetables and often these gardens would have some flowers interspersed through them. These gardens were permanent and carefully tended for them to thrive year after year.
By Anne Shirley’s time, the garden continued to serve both an aesthetic and practical purpose. The garden that would have been kept at Green Gables, and later at Anne’s home in Glenn St. Mary, would have likely contained herbs for cooking, vegetables, and flowers. Many flowers, like Calendules, Primroses and Mint Flowers served as both appealing to the eye and perfect for using while cooking.
Gardening is something that was very dear to Anne the character, and to her creator L.M. Montgomery. More than just for the sustainability of growing their own food, the garden provided a balm to the soul and allowed them to connect with the natural world around them.
“I love my garden, and I love working in it. To potter with green growing things, watching each day to see the dear, new sprouts come up, is like taking a hand in creation, I think. Just now my garden is like faith - the substance of things hoped for.”- L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams
In current times, in the enforced need to stay at home, the home garden has remerged. Many people have turned to indoor gardening, using the instant pot, but there is nothing like getting outside and turning over fresh dirt with your tools, knowing that what is going to grow is because of your care and consideration. It can be cathartic and is a hobby that will yield a reward over time.
This spring and summer take some inspiration from Anne’s love of gardening and give it a try for yourself. Whether it is an outside home garden, vegetable garden or a table top garden, or you just put some nose gays in a pot and nurture them, you may be surprised how good it feels to surround yourself with the growth and beauty of green things.
Illustrations courtesy of The Anne of Green Gables Treasury, by Carolyn Strom Collins and Christina Wyss Eriksson