The Weltys used this side porch as an additional room of the house, often entertaining friends and neighbors with bridge and word games. It was also the location for meetings of the "Night-Blooming Cereus Club," which began as spontaneous summer gatherings in celebration of the night-blooming cactus.
Welty had the porch enclosed with screens and screen doors in the 1940s, paid for with prize money she’d received from one of her many O. Henry literary awards. They were blown out, however, when Hurricane Camille hit Jackson in the summer of 1969.
Eudora’s favorite flower was the camellia, which blooms from October to March in Mississippi. The earliest camellias in the Welty garden were planted around 1930, a time of their great popularity in the southern United States.
Over 30 varieties make up this "garden room," a place to which Welty reffered in a 1945 letter to her agent, Diarmuid Russell:
In about ten years or so there will be a tall hedge of camellias all the way around the yard on one side, if they keep thriving, and I will put a bench out then, and you must expect to sit on it and enjoy such grandeur. There are fall and spring flowering, early and late, single and double, red, white, pink, solid, striped, and variegated, though of course just a small representation of the family.
While Welty attended graduate school in New York City, her mother would send her camellia blossoms during the winter months to remind her of home.
Camellia japonica varieties planted by the Weltys include 'Berenice Boddie,' 'Debutante,' 'Dr. Tinsley,' 'Duchess of Sutherland,' 'Elegans,' 'Elizabeth,' 'Finlandia' variegated, 'Imura,' 'Lady Clare,' 'Magnoliaeflora,' 'Pink Perfection,' and 'White Empress.' At present, 41 camellia shrubs remain in the garden, some of them grafted by Eudora herself.