Last weekend was a first for me, I attended as well as entered my very first camellia show. Our local chapter of The American Camellia Society, The Chattahoochee Valley Camellia Society was founded in 2010 and has an annual camellia show which invites not only professional growers to enter their blooms, but local novices as well. I have been meaning to go for several years, but unfortunately the promotional aspect of the show is a weakness, as I have only once or twice seen a billboard or any type of promotion before the actual show. I happened to read another local blogger’s post about the upcoming show a few days prior, so I was excited to be able to make it this year.
As I mentioned earlier, locals are encouraged to enter their own blooms, and I have several mature camellia varieties in my garden so I thought “Why not enter?”. They were accepting entries up until 10 am, so of course I didn’t make it there until almost 9:45 am. Only two cultivars, “Pink Perfection” and Kramer’s Supreme”, were actively blooming at the time so I brought 2 of each to enter. When I arrived I followed the bustle of other entrants who had just arrived to the loading dock area of The Columbus Museum where the show was taking place. Once inside, I could see the back halls were lined with folding tables and covered with all sort of debris from other entrants grooming their freshly cut camellias for the upcoming show. I found some extra cups to fill with water and attempted to coax my ill selected camellias, whose stems were growing sideways, into a clear dixie cup for judging. I already knew what varieties I had brought in, so I didn’t have to trouble any of the volunteers to help me identify them. Now I had simply to fill out the entry cards … for each bloom entered. The repetition in filling out virtually the same information quickly made me understand why so many of the seasoned entrants had stamps and return address labels ready for their cards. Once all was completed we were instructed to bring our trays of prepared blooms up the corridor into the reception area to be placed on the tables for judging. After doing so, I was done with my part and free to leave. Judging was done before the show began at 1 pm that afternoon.
I returned to The Columbus Museum later that afternoon with my sweet little Ga-Ga (grandmother) from whom I derive my love of gardening. We made our way in through the museum entrance into the main exhibition staircase over looking a room packed with tables upon tables of camellia blooms. The very front of the room beneath the staircase were the camellias that won best of show, among them were Best Pink Locally Grown, Best White Locally Grown, Best Red Locally Grown, and Best Variety Locally Grown. There were also many other best of show categories for the experienced camellia growers, many of whom came from neighboring states to enter their blooms. It truly was a treat to see so many different cultivars all in one place! The variety of colors, shapes, and sizes in one species of plant is amazing to behold and really must been seen in person. I was sure to take as many pictures I could, without imposing on the other visitors to the show. I’m constantly worried that I’m in someone’s way.
We finally got around to the local entrants table and it was a privilege to have some of my blooms among so many other lovely entries. As mentioned earlier, the Pink Perfections that I chose were less that ideal for display because of the awkward placement of the stems, so I was not surprised that they had no stickers for placement. My Kramer’s Supreme’s were another story. I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed that that had a blue and red sticker for first and second place specimens. There were also many other winning specimens among the local entry category, and that came as no surprise, because virtually every bloom present was as gorgeous as the next.
At the end of the day, I had a great time being surrounded by such beauty and will be much more prepared should I decide to enter again next year . I even bought a few new cultivars to add to the garden on my way out, can’t wait to see how they fill out! If you are interested in attending a camellia show yourself I suggest contacting your local camellia society or visit The American Camellia Society’s calendar of shows.