Camellia Club of Mobile Inc. Newsletter

 Issue 5 Vol. X                                                                        February 2014


859 Gorgeous Camellias versus Polar Vortex

Any out-of-towner who attended the Club’s 74th Camellia Show, held at Colonial Bel Air Mall on January 18 & 19, was probably surprised to learn that our area had been subjected to freezing cold temperatures and vicious wind chill for most of January!  Fifty-seven exhibitors displayed a total of 859 lovely blooms, many of them grown unprotected, and the award-winning blooms were all top-notch specimens.  We had a terrific turnout of Club members  who did a splendid job in making the Show run smoothly.  I’d like to name and thank each and everyone who worked so hard to make this such a successful Show, but as surely as God made little green apples, I’d accidentally miss someone out and be mortified…. so, please consider yourselves hugged and most sincerely thanked! Also included in these thanks are all the Club members who provided the food for the Judges Reception held the evening before the Show, and for the exhibitors and workers at the Show itself (I never saw so many doughnuts as we had on Saturday morning!).  Last, but by no means least, the Club thanks all the ACS Accredited Judges and Novice Judges who gave their time and expertise to select the very best blooms to win the trophies.   We couldn’t put on a Show without you, again, our heartfelt  thanks.



One particular beautiful bloom provoked a lot of attention among many of our expert growers, it was a gorgeous specimen of “Ivory Tower” entered by Jim Smelley.  Many people were not familiar with the bloom, although it has been in cultivation since 1966, originated by Hugh Shackelford of Albany, Georgia.  I have a distinct feeling that there will be lots of people requesting “Ivory Tower”  scions from Jim!


Congratulations to Margaret Lardner who  won one  of the Novice Awards, and to Coralie Toomey who won the other two Novice Awards.  Ladies,   as I was told when I won my Novice Award years ago, next year you’ll be hunting with the big dogs!  Three  award-worthy  camellias.


Most of you will have noticed that we had a lot more camellia plants for sale, with a great selection.  To all the Club members who trolleyed them into the Mall, and the remainder into the rental truck to be stored with Larry Heard, our thanks!  Martha Terry, Alice Creighton and Frances Ashcraft all did a tremendous job throughout both days of the Show, helping people choose the perfect camellia for their garden, giving out all the various information sheets we had available, selling the plants, ACS 2014 calenders, camellia pins and camellia mugs, keeping track of the money, and also signing up ten new members who elected to join the Club after seeing the Show.


On Sunday we met a charming gentleman called Bob Ward, we knew he was a camellia enthusiast since he was wearing a cap with a camellia logo embroidered on it for the Virginia Camellia Society.  Had a great chat with him, he’d started out growing roses more than fifty years ago, but the trees in his yard grew so much that they provided too much unwelcome shade for his beloved roses.  He found out about camellias at a flower show,  decided they were exactly right for his shady yard, so the roses were gone and camellias took over his life, to the extent of being on the Board of the Virginia Camellia Society for a number of years!  Bob found out about our Show from one of his camellia friends in Norfolk, VA. We were pleased to welcome a fellow fan of our favorite flower.  Bob said he was 87, I think he was way younger than that!  Or maybe that’s what camellias do for you?


Can’t write about the Show without mentioning the really hard work put in by our President Larry Heard, he did a great job in publicizing the Show on all the TV stations, he arranged and dragged camellia plants around for HOURS for buyers who didn’t know what they wanted!  He was there whenever help was needed and helped cheerfully.  To use an Anglo-American expression, I’m sure that Larry was ‘just plumb knackered’ on Sunday evening!


Don’t miss Camellia Propagation Meeting – Feb 9th


The Club will be holding one of its most popular meetings at the Mobile Botanical Gardens on February 9, meeting starts at 2:30 p.m. after a social half-hour from 2:00 p.m.  This meeting will be dedicated to showing members how to increase their camellia collection in a number of ways.  We will have Club experts demonstrating how to graft (very important and surprisingly easy), how to air layer (you can get a pretty big plant in several months), root and grow from seed.  We will have the graft demonstration plants for sale, with preference being given to new or newer members.  We will also have a selection of hard-to-find scions available for purchase at $1.00 each.  This is always a very well attended meeting and you will learn a lot from our experts.  See you there!



If you are a member of the International Camellia Society (do join if you’re not) you will know they have a list of camellia gardens throughout the world known as the Gardens of Excellence.  Mrs. Pat Short, ICS President, recently toured the Mobile Botanical Gardens Wintergarden who have applied to be included in this elite group.  We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a successful result.