blogbutton2-weltyEudora Welty, one of the nation’s most cherished and celebrated writers, called Jackson, Mississippi, home. Although she studied outside the state and traveled widely, she wrote essentially all of her award-winning work from the family home at 1119 Pinehurst Street, where she lived for 75 years. Today her home is a National Historic Landmark, preserved for the public to enjoy as one of the country’s most intact literary house museums. Surrounding the home are three-quarters of an acre of lovely garden areas, originally designed and created in 1925 by Eudora’s mother, Chestina Welty. Eudora Welty HouseAfter Eudora’s death in 2001, the garden was carefully restored to the 1925-1945 period, when Eudora and her mother worked side-by-side, planting, watering, and weeding. The Welty Garden is still a labor of love — for garden restoration consultant Susan Haltom and a committed group of volunteers called the Cereus Weeders. They named themselves for the exotic night blooming cereus plant, a favorite of Eudora’s. They work in the garden weekly, year round, to keep it as beautiful and authentic as possible.

Photo by  Susan Haltom
Photo by Susan Haltom

Featuring restored heirloom plants with “rooms” defined by arbors and trellises, the garden landscape follows Chestina’s plan, which assured that something would be blooming in every season — camellias and pansies in winter; larkspur, hollyhocks, and snapdragons in spring; phlox, zinnias, and blue salvia in summer; and asters, chrysanthemums, and spider lilies in fall. Roses, Chestina’s favorite, abound and flourish. In March, the historic Welty Garden will celebrate its tenth anniversary of being opened to the public. Sponsored by the Eudora Welty Foundation, the festivities include a luncheon and lecture by noted author and columnist Julia Reed on Thursday, March 27, 2014, at the Mississippi Museum of Art in downtown Jackson.

Photo by  Susan Haltom
Photo by Susan Haltom
Photo by  Susan Haltom
Photo by Susan Haltom
Photo by  Susan Haltom
Photo by Susan Haltom

The gathering begins at 11 a.m. with luncheon at 11:30. Select heirloom plants — including camellias propagated from Eudora’s own plants as well as night-blooming cereus plants — will be sold before and after the luncheon. Spring plants will also be on sale at the Eudora Welty House and Garden on Saturday, March 29, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Luncheon tickets may be purchased for $60 each, with $30 being a tax-deductible contribution to benefit the Welty Garden’s continuing restoration. Tickets may be purchased by sending a check payable to the Eudora Welty Foundation to: P. O. Box 55685 Jackson, MS 39296-5685 For more information: email foundation@eudorawelty.org. “We hope that many will join us for this lively 10th anniversary event showcasing tall tales of Southern gardens and gardeners,” said Susan Haltom, Welty historic garden consultant and co-author of One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Homeplace. “Julia Reed is a Greenville, Mississippi, native and is widely known for her quirky wit and wisdom. She will be a delightful speaker for this special occasion.” The Welty House and Garden, administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, are open for tours Tuesday through Friday. Call 601-353-7762 or email weltytours@mdah.state.ms.us for reservations. Learn more about Eudora Welty and news of the Welty House and Garden at eudorawelty.org and at Eudora Welty House Museum on Facebook. e-vite_WeltyGardenParty-proof5 (1)

One thought on “Eudora Welty’s Garden: A Labor of Love by Jeanne Luckett

  1. Mona Sides Smith

    Thank you for another peek at Eudora. I new her in the 1960s through the Mississippi Art Association when I lived in Jackson and then on the Gulf Coast. She inspired me to grow the illusive Night Blooming Cereus in my Ocean Springs front porch greenhouse.

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