On May 19, 2021, Jessica Russell presented “A Living History: Eudora Welty’s Garden” as part of the History Is Lunch series.
Eudora Welty (1909-2001) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and celebrated photographer whose longtime home is now a literary house museum that draws thousands each year. But Welty was also an avid gardener, and the landscape around her house boasts flowers, shrubs, and trees originally planted by Welty and her mother, Chestina. The restored garden appears as it did between 1925 and 1945 and is open for public tours.
“In addition to being a living connection to Eudora Welty, the garden is an example of the typical home gardens cultivated by women in the early- to mid-1900s, few of which survive today,” said Russell, garden projects specialist at the Eudora Welty House and Garden. “The Welty garden reveals much about Eudora Welty's life, work, and era in Mississippi, especially during the decades leading up to World War II.”
Welty included many scenes from her garden in her fiction and personal writings—for example, the red-headed Lady Clare from Delta Wedding or the Becky’s Climber rose and silver bells daffodils from The Optimist's Daughter. Jessica Russell earned her BA in advertising from the University of Southern Mississippi. At the Eudora Welty House and Garden she is involved in the care and interpretation of the Welty Garden and also works on garden programming, volunteer coordination, and preservation initiatives.