Anne of Green Gables: Read the Book & Visit Prince Edward Island

I never read Anne of Green Gables, the 1908 novel by L. M. Montgomery about an orphan named Anne Shirley who is sent to live on a farm owned by a middle-aged brother and sister on Prince Edward Island (PEI). I’m not sure why since it’s considered a children’s classic, having been translated into 20 different languages and selling more than 50 million copies and my mother was all about me reading the classics. Besides that, starting around age eight, I worked at the local public library, helping my mother unpack boxes of books that had just been delivered by the binary. It was a strictly off the books payment for me and I’m not sure how much I made but it was fun helping my mom who by the time she retired had worked for the East Chicago Public Library for half a century. Until I graduated college I spent most summers working there and so I had easy access to whatever books I wanted to read and since Laura Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie novels were a favorite, so segueing into Anne and PEI, one eastern Canada’s Maritime Provinces, would seem a good fit.


I still haven’t read any of the Anne books, seen the movies or watched the TV series. But I was in Charlottetown, the charming Victorian-era capital of PEI and decided to take a tour of the Green Gables Heritage Place, part of L.M. Montgomery’s Cavendish National Historic Site.DSC_0799

The drive from Charlottetown to Green Gables meanders past sandy beaches, red roofed lighthouses and cute little fishing hamlets all of which have at least one restaurant offering lobster rolls and mussels as well as a store or two selling jams made from locally grown fruits, wood lobster traps to take home and, of course, Anne paraphernalia. In the turn before we entered Green Gables, a sign for bicycle rentals was written in French, English and Japanese. I got the French part because the Maritimes are near Quebec and some islands are English and others French. As for the Japanese, our guide told me, the Montgomery books (which were translated into Japanese in 1952) are super popular there and many tourists come from Japan to visit the places mentioned in the book.©TPEI013_JS_Anne_Green_Gables_0663

Fortifying ourselves with ice cream (dairy farms abound on PEI and they’re known for the richness of their milk and, hence, their ice cream) from the Butter Churn Cafe, we wandered through the 19th century gardens with their white picket fencing, arbors, seats and old fashioned blooms such as giant hollyhocks and delphiniums.   Interpretative guides wearing early 20th century country garb and, straw hats took us through the gabled home and then we followed the path way leading towards the Atlantic Ocean. Several times we passed Anne-wannabes, their hair spray colored red and crowned with, of course, straw hats.Anne kitchen

In the gift shop, I looked at the prettily illustrated The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook, written by L. M. Montgomery’s granddaughter Kate Macdonald. Each of its recipes ties in with what Anne and her family, neighbors and friends ate in the book and I thought it would be fun to share a few.©TPEI013_JS_Anne_Green_Gables_0679

The following recipes are from the Anne of Green Gables cookbook by Kate MacDonald.

Poetical Egg Salad Sandwiches

“The girls sat down by the roots and did full justice to Anne’s dainties, even the unpoetical sandwiches being greatly appreciated by hearty, unspoiled appetites sharpened by all the fresh air and exercise they had enjoyed.” —Anne of Avonlea (Chapter 13: A Golden Picnic)

4 eggs

1 stalk celery

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

Ground pepper, pinch

1⁄4 cup butter, softened

2 tablespoons dried mint or 2 tablespoons parsley

8 slices bread, fresh

In small saucepan cover the eggs with cold water – at least 1 inch above the eggs. Place the saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and cover it. Let the eggs stand in the hot water for 25 minutes. Uncover the saucepan and put it under cold running water for 10 minutes to cool the eggs.

Meanwhile wash the celery stalk under cold running water. Chop it into tiny pieces on the cutting board.

Peel the eggs. Add them with the chopped celery to the small mixing bowl and mash them together with the fork.

Stir the mayonnaise, salt, and pepper into the egg mixture. Set the egg salad in the refrigerator.

Mix the softened butter with the dried mint or parsley in the small bowl. Set aside.

Cut each slice of bread with a large cookie cutter. Save the bread scraps in a little plastic bag for bread crumbs.

Butter one side of each bread shape with the minted butter. On half of the bread shapes spread the egg salad. Place the other half of the bread shapes on top. Makes 4 poetical sandwiches.DSC_0804

Maritime Gingersnaps

“You’ll put down the old brown tea set. But you can open the little crock of cherry preserves. It’s time it was being used anyhow—I believe it’s beginning to work. Any you can cut some fruit-cake and have some of the cookies and snacks.” —Anne of Green Gables (Chapter 16: Diana is Invited to Tea with Tragic Results)

1/2 cup molasses

1⁄4 cup shortening

1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour

1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine molasses and shortening in a small pan; heat, stirring constantly, just to boiling over medium heat. Remove immediately from heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile measure remaining ingredients into a large bowl. When molasses mixture has cooled, pour over flour mixture and mix well to combine. Chill dough for 10 minutes.

Shape into small (about quarter-sized) balls and arrange 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Flatten with bottom of a drinking glass or with fingers.

Bake until dry and crisp, about 8-10 minutes. Watch carefully as they may easily burn.

When done, place pan on cooling rack and cool cookies on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove from baking sheet to cooling rack and cool completely.

Once completely cooled, store in an airtight container.

Jane Ammeson can be contacted via email at


2018 Symphony League Garden Tour

p1070079.jpgBrilliant displays of flowers, vignettes of garden arts, a cast iron bed frame painted white and cozy sitting nooks, a pond, a memorial to a dear friend and such unique structures as a Japanese Garden are all components of the lovely garden created by Grace Gianforte, a two-acre extravaganza celebrating nature’s beauty. In keeping with the woodlands in the back of her more formal gardens, Gianforte and her husband, Peter Katz, maintain the Pier Nature Preserve, a meandering board walk lined by tree trunks leading across bridges, crossing a small stream and offering glimpses of semi-hidden delights—a circle of stained glass placed in the grass, birdhouses, a copper lantern and planters of flowers—is open to all the neighbors on Pier Road, a short road paralleling Lake Michigan north of St. Joseph in Hagar Shores, Michigan. Take a turn when wandering Gianforte’s garden and unexpectedly come across a peace garden, an intricately wrought iron bench and table, rolling waves of shrubs in different shades of luscious greens, a sign with a garden poem and ceramic birdbaths—it’s all a visual treasure hunt.P1070076The gardens have been a passion for Gianforte who lives and works in Chicago a few days each week and then comes back to indulge in a flurry of creativity. Her home, built in the 1920 and located at 5023 Pier Road, is the perfect backdrop of drop-dead garden rooms but unique as it is, it’s just one of a quartet of fabulous gardens on display during the 2018 Symphony League Garden Tour on Sunday, August 5th from Noon to 5pm. The League, the non-profit support organization of the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, was organized in 1975 to raise funds for the orchestra and holds several very successful fundraisers each year.P1070051

“We waited until August for the tour this year so that herbs, vegetables, and flowers will all be in season,” says Anne Odden who is co-chairing the event with Karen Johnson.

At the turn of the last century, Pier Road was a popular resort area and in 1915, according to the “Southwest Michigan RoadMap: The West Michigan Pike Volume II: Historic Resource Survey,” W. B. Pratt, owner of an area fruit farm since the 1860s, subdivided his land, opening a resort called Pratt’s Lakeview Park and later Pratt’s Resort. The history of the gardens on the tour are tied into this early history. Irish Catholics from Chicago vacationed here and the home belonging to Mike and Nancy Braun was once a retreat for nuns from Chicago and the garage/stable a place for priests to stay. Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley Sr. supposedly vacationed on Pier Road before buying a place closer to Chicago in Grand Beach. The property where Donna Schinto has her house and gorgeous gardens was on property that was part of the Pratt Resort and the home of the Ferrantellas was a farmhouse set upon a large expanse of farmland which east past M-63 and south to what is now Midwest Timer.P1070045The following gardens are on the tour:

TJ, Karen, and Kyle Ferrantella, P1070066P1070066P10700794835 Pier Road

““If you’re looking for pristine gardens, you’ll need to look elsewhere,” TJ Ferrantella writes to me in an email after I visited the gardens surrounding their second home on Pier Road.

Describing his flower gardens as being more likely to be maintained by a lawn mower and Round Up than by any other means, Ferrantella says that many of the concepts used in establishing the family’s extensive gardens were heavily influenced by Patricia Thorpe’s book The American Weekend Gardener, which advocates a realistic, low-maintenance approach to gardening.

Ferrantella has divided into his gardens and gives them names.

His favorite is the Bulb Garden defined by the birch tree and first established with the planting off over 1,000 bulbs.  True to his emphasis on easy weekends requiring little to no maintenance, this garden requires about one hour of weeding once a year.

“In Spring, it’s filled with yellow daffodils, progress to blue irises in late-spring, and to lilies in summer,” he says.  “We are often asked what is the greenery growing in the garden.  It’s fallopian japonica – both variegated and non-variegated and it was originally planted here to hide the leggy stems of the summer plants.”

The Frog Pond Garden located at the fork in the brick sidewalk was created so the couple’s now grown three son could play with frogs, the plant material around it immune to the damage caused by stomping kid feet.p1070033.jpgOverall, the Ferrantellas’s garden areas offers a comforting and casual ambience. For lazing around there’s a hammock, for entertaining people have gathered in a pretty screened in porch, it’s door painted  a bright red that contrasts nicely with the yellow house and its white shutters. The hum of laughing voices mingles along with Here people have the musical sounds of chimes moving in a gentle wind and the clucking of hens whose coop is tucked under a tree house.  Tucked among the flowering bushes and masses of plants are pretty settings revolving around garden art and a wrought iron seating area.

Mike and Nancy Braun, 5006 Pier Road

Tucked along a high bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, when Nancy and Mike Braun first bought this late rambling 19th century home the land was barren and the buildings which not only include the house but a structure which because of its barn like doors looks like that it was, at one time, a stable before being used as a garage and guest quarters for those visiting the whoever was staying in the house. Mike Braun, a retired attorney, likes to build and he has turned part of the stable into a studio for his wife, naming it Nanistan. Also an attorney, Nancy creates her mosaics there and preserves flowers from her gardens. Inspired by a trip to England, she also built a garden wall out of stackings stones.p1070175.jpgNanistan isn’t the only structure Braun has restored or built, he also has added a gazebo, pergola and trellis in a garden area so large that some are tucked out of sight.

“There was another home there years ago,” says Braun pointing to an area now full of separate gardens, some filled with vivid blooms, an abundance of herbs like chives, oreganos, thyme, French tarragon, cilantro, basil, winter savory and marjoram intersperse with globe thistle which Nancy says looks pretty when dried, strawberries and Sweet William.

And because she has a cat, Nancy also grows catnip, a plant she says the feline delights in.P1070183A large pond (dug out by Mike), bordered by hibiscus, iris, bear’s britches, candy tuft and buffalo beans with its spikes of yellow blooms, is accented with a flowing fountain and a statue of a heron.

The Brauns lived and worked in Chicago, for years coming up for weekends. But now, liking the peace and quiet of living on the lake, they now live here fulltime.

“We enjoy great sunsets and having friends visit,” says Nancy. “And, of course, working in our garden.”

Donna Schinto, 4887 Pier road

Donna Shinto also lived fulltime in the Chicago area, but when she decided to sell her home in Glenview, Illinois and move permanently to Pier Road, she took much of her garden with her. Digging up her favorite plants, she transported 50% of what was growing in her yard to the 1.4-acres surrounding her home—a task that took many car trips to and from her residences.P1070151But it was worth the effort. Shinto’s has fashioned a formal garden with garden rooms as well as fenced vegetable and herb gardens that invite visitors to explore. She uses art and statuary such as blue glass globes, a rustic metal rooster, huge pots of flowering plants, an old red pump mounted on a wooden box, a large geode with its interior crystals revealed, a pond circled by smooth stones and almost hidden by rich green foliage and a vintage toy Volkswagen, made of metal and painted in fading, slightly rusting colors of yellow, red, blue and green with a peace symbol on its hood.

Seeking to integrate her Glenview plants with the landscaping already in place—the property was once part of the Pratt Resort and boasts 12 majestic black walnut trees and large sugar maple with an 11-foot circumference and making sure the home fit in with her abundance of greenery, Shinto had the house designed and positioned so all fit in with the landscape. The mark of a true gardening afficianado.


What: 2018 Symphony League Garden Tour

When: Sunday, August 5th from Noon to 5pm (EST)

Cost: $10 tickets on sale at the SMSO office or SMSO website in advance or at one of the four gardens during the day of the event.