Beeland Park joins American Camellia Trail

Published 10:50 am Thursday, April 20, 2023

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The Greenville community gathered in the Beeland Park Community Center on Friday, to celebrate the historic garden’s recognition as the 65th garden listed on the American Camellia Trail.

Representatives Fred and Sandra Jones, along with Tommy and Brenda Alden from the American Camellia Society Board of Directors attended the ceremony to present Sasanqua Camellia Society members with recognition of the garden’s placement on the national trail.

American Camellia Society chairman for the American Camellia Trail Sandra Jones said the community’s enthusiasm indicated tremendous support for the city’s garden and its history.

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“I think it’s fabulous,” Jones said. “The enthusiasm here is unbelievable. And with that behind it, this [recognition] should put Greenville on the map in Camellia world.

McDonald Plummer Jr., who graduated from Greenville High School in 1966, said he is proud the city gained recognition for the efforts of former residents who placed such importance on cultivating the city’s Camellias.

“I think the efforts on the part of people who came before us have finally come to fruition here,” Plummer said. “And, getting the recognition that they richly deserved all these years was really well and familiar today. I live in Georgia and it’s a big deal over there. But this is Camellia City. I’m very proud to say this is where I am from.”

Sasanqua Camellia Society Board President Jan Newton told The Advocate staff that the first camellia plant was said to have come down to Greenville from South Carolina with Aurelia Burkett Herbert in 1848.

“By 1947, Greenville men in the white collar sector were already propagating camellias as a hobby and competing with each other by hybridizing and growing their camellias,” Newton said.

The effort to cultivate camellias blossomed and flourished in Greenville and by the late 1940s, the fragrant trees covered the city in flowers.

Now the eight-acre garden holds more than 300 varieties of camellia trees. Sanqua Society board member Nedra Crosby said she hopes the recognition would inspire other events in Beeland Park.

“My hope is that the Chamber of Commerce is going to take it and go to the next level,” Crosby said. “I want to see a 5K run that’s called the Camellia run. I would love to see a day in the park at a Camellia Fest. I just hope this is going to parlay into every aspect of the community, not just the Camellia world but other parts of the community.”