There’s a lot of ground covered in this week’s glossary as we examine the tradition of flower gardening in the South, its history, and one of its prominent practitioners, the Mississippi author Eudora Welty. The list is short, but it’s enough to get you started on your own horticultural adventure, whether you plan to dig in the dirt, visit some gardens, or just sit in the air-conditioned comfort of your reading room and enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor.
A Southern Garden by Elizabeth Lawrence
This guide to “Middle South” gardening (the rough equivalent of Zone 7 on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map) was originally published in 1942 and remains a favorite among literary-minded gardeners. Lawrence was the first woman to complete the course in Landscape Design in 1930, and this book is based on careful observation and study of her own garden. It’s organized according to seasons and includes descriptions of Lawrence’s garden and a guide to the the changing blooms, all composed in a delicate literary style. Chestina Welty frequently corresponded with Lawrence, and One Writer’s Garden describes Welty’s copy of A Southern Garden as “a well-thumbed, scribbled-in staple of her garden library.”
The Eudora Welty House
After her death in 2001, the Mississippi Department of Archives History restored Eudora Welty’s house and garden to give museum-goers a look into the writer’s daily existence. The house is shown by guided tour and garden enthusiasts can use the Welty garden bloom chart to plan their visit.
A British garden designer at the turn of the 20th century, Gertrude Jekyll’s writings were a major influence on American gardeners and gardens. While many of her books have fallen out of print, they’re still readily available from online retailers.
The Southern Garden History Society
Formed in 1982 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the Southern Garden History Society has roots in the popular garden clubs of the early 20th century. The group’s focus is not just social, but also academic, and their annual meeting takes place in a different Southern city each year and features lectures and garden tours. Their quarterly publication Magnolia provides readers with scholarly articles on historic gardens and gardeners, plants, and restorations, and The Cherokee Garden Library at the Atlanta History Center serves as the archive for the society.
This glossary was compiled by Brad Rhines.