A SHOWCASE OF CAMELLIAS..

Camellia enthusiasts were indeed treated to a color extravaganza of red, pink, and white as they entered the competition hall of the Southeast Alabama Camellia Society’s annual show last weekend in Dothan, AL.  This event was also sanctioned by the American Camellia Society.   Displayed in all of their glory were the delicate blooms of many varieties of this southern favorite.  And what a breath of spring in the middle of the coldest day of the winter!  Most everything seems to be hibernating this time of year except for camellias. Competitors from Central Florida, Georgia, and Southeast Alabama enter their prized camellia blooms in this annual event.

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Debbie Hundley,  a close friend and master gardener in her own right, admires the blooms, and takes notes for future camellia bush additions to her lovely garden.

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Dr. Bill Moon and his wife, Carolyn were instrumental in starting the local society approximately 6 years ago.  Dr. Moon has grown camellias for over 40 years, and he states that there are literally hundreds of different varieties from hybrids to the antique ones which are abundant in  Dothan’s garden district.  He cites Dothan as having “perfect” growing conditions to support camellias.   Experienced in the art of camellia grafting, he is definitely not a  novice at gardening. His favorite variety is Frank Houser while his wife’s is Pearl Terry.  He is pictured below examining the specimens.

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The South has Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan to thank for this Southern garden favorite.  In 1959 the camellia was designated Alabama’s state flower replacing Goldenrod after some ladies in Butler County considered it unworthy!  I would have to agree. Feast your eyes on some of the  prize-winning camellias that were entered in the show from a three state area.

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Moonlight Bay

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Pearl Terry

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Bon Bon

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Margaret Hilford

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Pink Perfection

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Carter’s Sunburst Blush

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Jim Pinkerton

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Sawada’s Dream

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Miss Charleston Virginia

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Georgia National Fair

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Mrs. D. W. Davis

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Frank Houser

Camellias are considered a “living symbol of elegance and aristocracy”, and  gardeners are rediscovering this blissful flowering shrub  is relatively easy to grow.  Often referred to as the rose of winter in southern gardens, these exquisite beauties bloom from late fall to March, peaking in January or February.

Here are just a few tips to consider when growing camellias:

1.  Some thrive in full sun, but most shrubs grow better and product more abundant flowers in partial shade.

2.  Cold hardiness:  Temperatures below 20F may reduce the bloom size.

3.   The best time to plant new ones is early fall or winter when temperatures are above freezing.

4.  Do not fertilize the first year after planting.

5.  For established plants, apply fertilizer after blooming.

6.  Only light pruning is required to remove dead wood and to thin limbs.

And what about my favorite camellia at the show?  Hands down, my personal favorite was Pink Perfection.  I have enjoyed picking this particular one from the yards of two friends who live in the garden district.  Its delicate blooms remind me of a peony. 

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A very close second and  winner of the best white variety was Seafoam.. Lovely…

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The Southeast Alabama Camellia Society is to be commended for a fabulous show.  And, like me, you may  be dreaming of where to plant your next camellia bushes…

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8 thoughts on “A SHOWCASE OF CAMELLIAS..

  1. I love your favorite, the color and the structure are so perfect… but mine here is Moonlight Bay. Something about it just gets to my deep inner self! Makes me feel so good to know God has have given us so many beautiful options!
    Also, I normally would feel bad calling a camellia a ” Mutant ” before getting involved with my Master Gardening class…now after studying the camellia I see it is a special honor to be a Mutant!
    Thanks for this and all beautiful posts!!!!!!

    • You would have loved the show, Lisa. I was so impressed with the wide range of entries. The local society put on a first rate show. Maybe next year you can join me!! I can’t wait to plant more in my yard, but I guess it will have to wait until the fall..

  2. My favorite has always been pink perfection as well, Mary Lise. When we moved from South Orange, it grieved me to leave behind the bush of that wonderful camellia! Johnny’s grandmother had filled the yard with camellias and I loved that so much. I need to plant more bushes in my yard on Woodmere!

  3. Mary Lise, I have a very healthy looking plant that has never bloomed. It has been planted for several years now. Any suggestions? Donita

    • I am no expert, Donita, but would love to help. I can definitely ask some “experts” I know if need be. Could you give me a little more information: what kind of camellia, how much shade and light does it get, do you fertilize, and if so, what type and how often. Let me know and I’ll be sure to get you some accurate information. Dothan is camellia “heaven” so there are many seasoned growers. Thanks for looking at my blog. I hope you are doing well..

  4. How beautiful. It sorta takes a minute to grasp all the colors and beauty.. I cannot imagine what it was like to be there in person.. Yes, I love your fave the pink but the white one looks artificial.. it is so perfect. I havae never grown camelias but I think I could here in KY. Our Winters are fairly warm.. May have to try these.. Beautiful.. Blessings!

    • Patty:

      Thanks for supporting my blog! It means so much to me. I would imagine that certain varieties of camellias would thrive in Kentucky. Just check with your local garden center. The conditions here in southeast AL are optimal for growing camellias. Also, Georgia, Central FL, and SC are other areas in which they thrive.

      Have a wonderful day!

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