Thursday, March 24, 2005

A sort of jungle to the imagination

"She planted every kind of flower that she could find or order from a catalogue--planted thickly and hastily, without stopping to think, without any regard for the ideas that her neighbors might elect in their club as to what constituted an appropriate vista, or an effect of restfulness, or even harmony of color. Just to what end Mrs. Larkin worked so strenuously in her garden, her neighbors could not see. She never sent a single one of her fine flowers to any of them. They might get sick and die, and she would never send a flower. And if she thought of beauty at all (they regarded her stained overalls, now almost of a color with the leaves), she certainly did not strive for it in her garden. It was impossible to enjoy looking at such a place. To the neighbors gazing down from their upstairs windows it had the appearance of a sort of jungle, in which the slight, heedless form of its owner daily lost itself."

--Eudora Welty, "A Curtain of Green"

Horticulturists, historians and volunteers have been restoring Eudora Welty's Jackson, Mississippi, garden since the mid-1990s. "You know this world sparked her imagination," says English professor Suzanne Marrs, Welty's biographer, friend and neighbor. "And that may be the most important thing. What was she observing that sparked the stories, and why?" (Smithsonian)

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