The Southeast Alabama Camellia Society’s 5th annual Camellia Show held on Saturday, against the backdrop of a beautiful spring-like day, was indeed the consummate gardening event. With well over seven hundred entries from a tri-state area and an attendance that exceeded expectations, the American Camellia Society sanctioned event was quite a success even in spite of the recent ice storm.
Mobile attorney Forrest Latta, a master camellia gardener in his own right and currently a Gulf Regional Director for the American Camellia Society (ACS), was in attendance Saturday, and commented on the show’s success. His garden contains approximately two hundred camellias, and he has a passion for preserving the camellia’s heritage. January 7th was celebrated as the Day of the Camellia at the Dothan Area Botanical Gardens where Latta was the featured speaker. In 1959 the camellia was designated as Alabama’s state flower.
Latta also pointed out that us tea aficionados have the camellia plant to thank for the most consumed beverage in the world. Camellia Sinensis is commonly referred to as the tea plant.
Judges, representing the ACS guidelines and regulations, awarded winners in numerous categories represented both unprotected and protected classifications. Protected camellias are grown in greenhouses while unprotected camellias are of the garden variety.
Feast your eyes on the highlights of this year’s show . . .
W.P. Gilley Memorial Award: Kay Berridge variety
Best Blossom in Show Unprotected: Dixie Knight variety
Best Large to Very Large Japonica Unprotected: Cleve James Variety
Best Medium Japonica Unprotected
Best Small Japonica, Unprotected
Best Reticulata, Unprotected: Frank Houser variety
Best Tray of Three, Unprotected: Ville De Nantes variety
Best White: Sea Foam
Best Miniature: Fiscone Variety
Best Large to Extra Large Japonica, Protected: Gullio Huccio
Best Medium Japonica, Protected: Elaine’s Betty Variety
Best small Japonica, Protected: Man Size
Best Reticulata, Protected: Linda Carol
Best Non-Reticulata Hybrid: Spring Daze
More blue ribbon winners . . . .
One of my favorite Tray of Threes: Rena Swick Variety
Best Novice Bloom: Sayonara
Best Tray of Three, Unprotected:
Best Reticulata, Unprotected: Frank Houser
I especially admired this Tom Perkins
There was an endless array of magical blooms . . .
Kick Off: Tray of Three
Georgia National Fair
My personal favorite: Ethel Rhyne
Below are many blooms that were featured in the Court of Honor:
Court of Honor, Mary Alice Cox, was another elegant white bloom
Tri-state Camellia growers truly showcased an endless variety of their most elegant blooms . . .
Triumphing as Best Blossom in Show, Protected – Princess Masako
I continue to enjoy the benefits of this wonderful show even several days after its conclusion. As the show ended the gracious members were so kind to share many of the entries with me. Valentine’s Day came early for me!
There are even life lessons regarding camellias to be learned in Southern literature. In Harper Lee’s ( of Monroeville, AL) classic Southern novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem and Scout passed by old Mrs. Dubose’s home everyday on the way home from school. Angered by her verbal attacks on Atticus, Jem used Scout’s baton to rip the blooms off her white camellia bushes which she referred to as “Snow on the Mountain”. As punishment, Atticus had Jem read each day to Mrs. Dubose. Atticus’ lesson to the children through this experience was that courage is standing up for what is right no matter what. After the reading sessions, she sent Jem a perfect Snow on the Mountain camellia preserved in wax in a candy box. Atticus commented: “I think that was her way of telling you everything’s all right…”
The white camellia in this book so beautifully symbolizes the art of forgiveness…
Camellia oracle of winter bliss
You are the promise of springs renewal
Midst the slumbering landscape
Like winters splendid jewel
Your miracle of life
So delicate and so sweet
You adorn Victorian homes
Upon these earthly streets
The beauty of your elegance
Your fragile blossom lingers
The softness of your petals
Pass through my waiting fingers
I celebrate your symmetry
Your absolute perfection
Creation of that Life divine
You are but God’s reflection
You are a life long lesson
A song that’s ever sung
From the deepest winter spell
You bring forth the morning sunLynne FincherSpringarden