One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place


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As a biologist who has also written literary criticism, I noted how carefully Welty incorporated botany into her fiction, linking the flowers and trees decorating her own garden with the characters she developed with realistic, even painstaking botanical detail. Chronicled over her lifetime, Welty's fiction, essays, and letters describe the seasonal casts of colors, patterns and fragrances of flowers blooming within the garden.


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The opening chapter, "Chestina," focuses on Welty's mother who had married her father. Shortly after, she and her husband settled in the Belhaven suburb where they began their young family in a brick home surrounded by tall pines Eudora and her brothers Edward and Walter frolicked in their mother's flower garden and over time, helped her to maintain it. A hot Mississippi summer witnessed a wide variety of species of daylilies and roses requiring constant watering.

A photograph of Welty, sitting on a lawn chair watering the garden, a routine chore, reminds us that the writer was a devoted daughter and a dedicated gardener Welty's Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, "The Optimist's Daughter," is filled with references to Chestina's garden and the delight of blooming flowers common to Southern gardens With plentiful family pictures taken outdoors, highlighting the garden, and a crisp, running narrative, this book allows us to virtually walk within the restored Welty garden awakening us to the bucolic reality of Welty's world.

An excerpt from her correspondence with Diarmuid Russell, an editor and close friend from upstate New York, captures a reflective moment:. Every evening when the sun is going down and it is cool enough to water the garden, and it is all quiet except for the locusts in great waves of sound, and I stand still in one place for a long time putting water on the plants, I feel something new - that is all I can say - as if my will went out of me, as if I had a stubbornness and it was melting She was also becoming a capable gardener under the tutelage of her mother, Chestina Welty, who designed their modest garden in Jackson, Mississippi.

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Eudora Welty, the Gardener

From the beginning, Eudora wove images of southern flora and gardens into her writing, yet few outside her personal circle knew that the images were drawn directly from her passionate connection to and abiding knowledge of her own garden. Near the end of her life, Welty still resided in her parents' house, but the garden-and the friends who remembered it-had all but vanished.

When a local garden designer offered to help bring it back, Welty began remembering the flowers that had grown in what she called "my mother's garden.

Eudora A Writer's Life

When Welty's private papers were released several years after her death, they confirmed that the writer had sought both inspiration and a creative outlet there. Haltom is also the organizer of a group that calls itself "The Cereus Weeders.


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Although the garden has largely been restored, everyone involved would like to develop a long-term plan for management of the garden. A landscape management plan for a historic garden is significantly undertaking and much more challenging than an average maintenance plan. In the case of the Welty garden, there are a number of long-term issues to be addressed such as when to replace trees and plants that have died or overgrown their location, what equipment to use for maintenance in order to maintain an authentic aesthetic and how to replace varieties of plants that are no longer commercially grown.

Tim Schauwecker who administers the Landscape Contracting and Management program and Brian Templeton who is a landscape architect and an Extension Associate at MSU have been leading the project and are currently working to complete a draft of the landscape management plan for review.

One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place
One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place
One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place
One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place
One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place
One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place
One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place
One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place

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