A RIOT OF COLOR
As early as February, through March, April, and May, the Welty garden bursts into bloom. Narcissus, irises, native azaleas, tea roses, climbing roses, sweet peas, and larkspur are just a handful of spring’s flowering delights. April—Welty’s birthday month—ushers in a flurry of activity at the Eudora Welty House & Garden. Guests flock to see the flowers at their peak, attend our annual Welty birthday bash, and purchase plants propagated from the Welty garden at the annual Plant Sale.
BLOOMS FOR DAYS—AND NIGHTS
June, July, and August bring on summer’s vibrant blooms. A host of fragrant heirloom day lilies, towering Philippine lilies, and spotted tiger lilies rise skyward. After summer showers, watch for pink rain lilies to “come in bloom before your eyes,” as Welty would say. Native butterflies, honeybees, and hummingbirds hover over zinnias, cannas, tea roses, and four o’clocks. Meanwhile, we keep an eye on the peculiar night-blooming cereus for signs of its magnificent nocturnal bloom. Miss it, and the next morning all that’s left will look, in Welty’s words, “like a wrung chicken’s neck.”
September, October, and November add new scents and hues to summer’s lingering glory—at least until the first freeze. Fragrant butterfly ginger and sweet olive fill the air. Purple Mexican sage, orange cosmos, lavender chrysanthemums, and amber marigolds emerge. After a rain, spider lilies come “spinning up like piano stools,” just as they did for Welty. Tea roses continue to appear in the upper and lower gardens, alongside an encore round of re-blooming heirloom day lilies. As winter draws near, Welty’s camellias—now heavy with buds—start to unfurl their early blooms. Overhead, the red oak, sugar maple, and crepe myrtle leaves glow in shades of yellow, orange, and red.
Though camellias in the Welty garden can bloom from November to March, peak season usually falls in February. The camellia was Welty’s favorite flower, and she amassed a grand collection in her garden. Most of the camellias grown here today were planted or grafted by Welty herself—more than 30 varieties in all. “Lady Clare,” which has bloomed below Welty’s bedroom window since the 1940s, became the namesake of a character in her novel, Delta Wedding. Welty joked that her “White Empress” bloom was bright enough to read by. And she placed “Chandleri Elegans” in her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Optimist’s Daughter. Today, her garden is an official stop on the American Camellia Society Gulf Coast Camellia Trail.