CAMELLIA CLUB OF MOBILE INC. Newsletter Vol.XIII Issue 4 – Feb. 2017

Flood, Fog & Flowers!

Our Club’s 77th Camellia Show was a very successful one, despite some heavy rain just a day or so before, though the week of foggy mornings did seem to encourage the camellias to bloom with over a thousand blooms in competition from fifty-one exhibitors.  For the first time in a long while the weather was quite spring-like and we weren’t running about shivering!  Club members turned out in force to perform the various tasks that must be done to have a smooth running Show.  Our heartfelt thanks go to those who ran receiving; managed bloom placement; bought & set up the beautiful awards table; provided us with superb judges; set up & replenished the food tables; manned the Club table selling plants, signing new members & providing information;  all those who worked like beavers as clerks and runners; and last, but not least, all who helped dismantle the Show on Sunday – we may have broken last year’s record for a fast tear-down!  Again our thanks, the Show would not be as great or as much fun without all you good people.  Final vote of appreciation goes to all our exhibitors and our ACS judges without whom we would not have a Show.  As they say in the U.K. “Ta everso!”.

Camellia Propagation Seminar  February 12 at Jim Smelley’s Greenhouses

If you want to increase your camellia collection do attend our propagation meeting which will be held on next Sunday at Jim Smelley’s greenhouses in Agricola, Mississippi, at 2:00 p.m.  Expert propagators will give close-up demonstrations on how to graft camellias.  There will be quality grafting stock available for purchase at $5.00 each, plus we will have a nice selection of unusual and hard-to-find scions at $1.00 each – these are being donated by Club members who have camellia collections numbering in the hundreds!  We will have 20 new members attending this meeting (hopefully) and they have all been given tickets entitling them to a free camellia (and scion of their choice if they want to try their hand at grafting).If you have never visited Jim’s greenhouses and seen his magnificent camellias, you are in for a treat.  Those of us who’ve been there before won’t miss a chance to visit again!  Directions how to get to Smelley’s are as follows:  From Alabama – Mobile & points east – Go west on Moffett Road/Highway 98 to Natchez Highway/County Road 7 and turn left. This road turns into MS Highway 612, follow this until you cross the railroad tracks just before the T-junction with MS Highway 613, turn left. Follow 613 until you reach West Firehouse Drive, Agricola, turn right.  Jim Smelley’s place is on the right just past Glen Read’s wholesale Camellia Nursery on the left.  You can also go out Airport Blvd to MS Highway 614, turn right at crossroads with MS Highway 613 and proceed to West Firehouse Drive, etc.   We recommend you don’t miss this meeting.

Camellia Chat

As most of us know by now, our dear friend and fellow Club member Sharon Emmons was seriously injured in a horrifying automobile accident just before the Show.  Spoke with Butch and he says she is out of the hospital now, but still on a lot of medicine which is sedating her.  The Club has sent a get well card and we are hoping she will be better soon. 

Also suffering from an accident which shattered her knee is Diana Gralapp.  She has undergone surgery to pin it back together but will have a lengthy period of rehabilitation.  We were all so pleased to see her at the Show,  though she was on a walker and gamely struggling up and down the Mall to get her required (and painful!) exercise.  We’re all rooting for you, Diana.

The Club signed up seventeen new members at the Show plus three after it. One couple said they had bought their house some time ago from a gentleman who was a great camellia grower,  on asking the name of this camellia fan, we were amazed and delighted to find out it was Charles Butler, one of our Club members who was also President of the American Camellia Society in 1965-1966.  I do know that Jim Oates knew him, probably Jim Smelley and Walter Creighton did too.

On the last day of January a group of Club members gathered at Jim Smelley’s greenhouses and grafted over ninety camellias to be sold later this year to benefit the Club.  The scions were provided by Jim (so you know they are all special) and the grafting team were Jim Smelley, Walter Creighton, Don Oyler, Jimmy Walker, Leo Brown, Greg & Fran McCaslin and Carl Davis.  Great work, guys!

We had loads of food to munch on at the Show, Paul Huerkamp from Louisiana again brought that delicious King Cake that celebrates the Mardi Gras season and this time I managed to grab a piece before all the gannets got to it!  Yummy!  Thanks, Paul!

One of the people visiting our Show was directed to “go ask Vera” where they could obtain gibberellic acid….  Luckily Martha Terry noted the stunned look on my face (I don’t “gib” since I always remember it too late) and came to the rescue with her smart phone and found a supplier – Wal-mart!!!!!  Don’t believe me?  Look it up!

One of the stand-out camellias on our Awards table at the Show was Randolph & Marilyn Maphis’s beautiful butter-yellow non-retic hybrid “ Kagirohi”.  The name translates as “First Light of Dawn” – most appropriate.   Lots of people admired and commented on it.

It was great to see so many of our members exhibiting at our Show – and winning awards.  Wilma Toney and Mrs. Lee Patrick each won a Novice Trophy, really good for their first entries.  Jane Davis, wife of our former Club President George Davis, brought two “Pink Perfection” blooms to the Pensacola Show and won a Novice Trophy there.  You three are now off the porch and hunting with the big dogs!

Recently received my latest copy of the International Camellia Society annual journal – months of reading in it – plus a most intriguing colour photo of a new Japanese-registered camellia called “Ai-Nobuyoshi”.  If the colour is correct, this found bloom is the most gorgeous purple with golden stamens.  Really interested in seeing more of this plant.

Made a side trip while in Pensacola last Sunday (yes, Super Bowl Day!) to see the camellia garden planted at the University of West Florida by the Pensacola Camellia Club.  There is now a lovely paved path winding through the camellias.  Inserted in the path are terracotta coloured pavers which have dedications on them.  Interesting to read them all, especially the one from Skip Vogelsang who listed in appreciation all the camellia aficionados who helped him over the years, included in the list were our own Jim and Elaine Smelley.  Do visit this garden, they have beautiful plants and interesting varieties.  On the outside corner of the garden, pretty much in full sun a lot of the time, is a big thick bushy  “Frank Houser Variegated” covered in big blooms.   The only other place I have seen a similar strong sturdy “Frank Houser” in lots of light is at Don & Carolyn Oyler’s property.  Maybe I should move one of my FHV’s out of their shade?