No doubt: This is Camellia Country

Published 1:23 pm Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Evidence of Greenville’s deep appreciation for the camellia is abundant as the many flowers planted in and around the city.

There’s the 71-year history of the “Camellia City” moniker.Images of the flower appear everywhere including fliers, billboards and official logos. At least half a dozen businesses have Camellia in their name.

It’s obvious even to the oblivious — this is camellia country.

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Despite recent cold snaps that damaged petals on many local plants, camellia excitement remains in full bloom as the state celebrates the 50th year following the designation of its official flower.

Sunday’s meeting of the Butler County Historical and Genealogical Society paid tribute to the deep-rooted history of the camellia in Greenville and Butler County, both of which played key roles in the state’s designation half a century ago.

The event was held at the historic Henry-Beeland-Stanley home on East Commerce, the site of the city’s first camellia show in 1937.

You can browse photos from the big day in a gallery on our Web site, Click on the “Spotted” link in the navigation bar.

Among a long list of special guests were out-of-town visitors Bill Hairston of the Birmingham Camellia Society and Dr. Bill Dodson, Alabama spokesman for the American Camellia Society.

Both brought good news for camellia lovers.

The Birmingham Camellia Society will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the camellia as the state flower at a two-day show at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Feb. 14-15 from 1-4 p.m.

The American Camellia Society has established a national camellia trail highlighting the camellia from coast to coast.

Included in the trail are the capitol gardens in Montgomery, said BCHGS president Barbara Middleton.

Middleton said she’s suggested Greenville city leaders consider creating a botanical garden at Beeland Park, with hopes that it, too, would one day make the list.

The self-described amateur gardener also offers encouragement to those interested in exploring the horticultural hype by planting their own camellias.

“Now is the ideal time,” Middleton said. “You can see the buds on them, so you know what you’re getting. If I can grow them, anyone can.”