2018-01-26 / Home & Garden

A Winter Show in the Camellia Belt

Stopping to smell the flowers
By Arlene Marturano

Everyone loves winter flowers. Midland gardeners and soils appreciate one woody shrub genus bringing continuous bloom from fall through winter to spring. Columbians are fortunate to live in the geographical area known as “the Camellia Belt.”

Although one can view camellias in bloom now in long established neighborhoods like Heathwood and Shandon, garden centers like Cooper’s Nursery and Wingard’s Market, and formal gardens on Historic Columbia properties, Riverbanks Botanical Garden and USC Horseshoe. The nearest place to view the largest and varied collection of Camellia sasanqua, japonica, reticulata, and hybrid blooms is the Mid- Carolina Camellia Society Winter Show at the Phillips Market Center in the State Farmer’s Market in West Columbia Saturday, February 10.

The show, one of the largest in the southeast, attracts growers and exhibitors from Virginia to Florida and west to Georgia. As many as 1,500 blossoms travel to the show, each packed carefully inside foam coolers.


Well-hydrated camellias await teams of judges. Well-hydrated camellias await teams of judges. Show organizers invite anyone and any age to enter their greenhouse or backyard camellias in the show by bringing their “crème of the crop” to the market between 7 a. m. and 10:30 a.m.

Experts will be available to assist novices identify and prep and primp specimens for judging, which will take place from 10:30 a.m. –noon. Local and novice bloom winning entrees are awarded monetary prizes from $25 to $100.

John Maker and Dan Clayton are co-chairs for this year’s show. Judges come from across the southeast and are trained to comply with the American Camellia Society rules and regulations. Five to six teams of three judges per team select winning blooms. During judging, only judges are permitted on the floor.


Trio of white camellias in bridal gowns await judging. Trio of white camellias in bridal gowns await judging. Following the judging, the free show is open to the public from 1 p.m.–5 p.m. First time visitors will be awe-struck by the size and sea of blossoms sweeping the exhibit hall. This is a time to congratulate winners, meet camellia enthusiasts, ask questions, and take pictures.

Growers can discuss specimens appropriate for their landscape, identify their specimens, speak to cultural problems they may be having, and suggest ways to keep squirrels from consuming buds and blooms. Camellia shrubs will be available for purchase.

For those seeking camaraderie with Camellia Belt aficionados, the Mid- Carolina Camellia Society founded in 1951, meets the first Tuesday of each month August through April at Lizard’s Thicket, 402 Beltline Boulevard in Columbia.

Camellia Resources
www.americancamellias.com
www.atlanticcoastcamelliasociety.org
www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/faqs/Camellia.html



Novices are invited to enter backyard camellias in the winter show. Novices are invited to enter backyard camellias in the winter show.

This camellia ‘sport’ is a winner. This camellia ‘sport’ is a winner.

Experts will be available to assist novices in prepping blossoms for judging. Experts will be available to assist novices in prepping blossoms for judging.

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