Eudora Welty's Green Thumb

Novelist's Family Garden Restored, Opened to Public

Undated photo of Eudora Welty's mother Chestina tending roses in her garden

Undated photo of Eudora Welty's mother Chestina tending roses in her garden. Courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Novelist Eudora Welty loved gardens and gardening, and her vivid descriptions of the flowers, shrubs and trees of her native South fill her writings. This weekend in Welty's home town of Jackson, Miss., the public will be able to experience one of the most intimate of her bucolic inspirations: the Welty family garden.

Eudora Welty Reads from 'The Optimist's Daughter'

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The garden was started by Welty's mother Chestina in 1925 behind their Pinehurst Street home in Jackson. Mother and daughter passionately maintained the plot through the 1960s, with Eudora taking over on her own after her mother's death.

In 1973, Eudora Welty won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Optimist's Daughter. The resulting demands of a literary career kept the writer from tending to the family garden and it became overgrown from neglect.

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Several years before Welty's death in 2001, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History came to the rescue. The group restored the garden with help from Chestina Welty's original 1925 plan for the garden, the meticulous planting records kept by the family over the years and guidance from Eudora's own fiction.

NPR's Linda Wertheimer speaks with garden writer Jeanette Hardy, who got a preview of the restoration project.

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