Camellia Society launches “Soon to Bloom”

Published 10:03 pm Wednesday, December 13, 2023

The Greenville Camellia Society gathered with Mayor McLendon and society supporters on Dec. 6 to mark the launch of its upcoming January Camellia Show. Society friends came from the community and others traveled there to celebrate an official ribbon cutting for signage announcing the American Camellia Trail garden that is coming to Beeland Park. 

The “Soon to Bloom” trail will include a stone pillar entrance with an iron camellia archway, stone picnic tables, a salt kettle fountain, a bandstand site, an amphitheater area, a natural children’s area with a treehouse, a rose garden with historic varieties, and a hard surface path that will lead visitors through the entire camellia garden. 

Greenville Camellia Society President Jan Newton said the ribbon cutting has set the stage for an exciting Camellia Show on January 27-28.

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“In 1950, over 5,000 visitors came to see the show,” Newton said. “Many years ago, year after year, Greenville hosted the largest camellia show in the state. It was the Greenville citizens that took the idea to the state legislature to name the camellia the state flower.”

Newton explained that the Camellia Society has been working very hard to prepare for the upcoming show. 

“The Greenville Camellia Society has been working tirelessly promoting the show,” Newton said. “We have attended other camellia shows in Georgia and Florida to learn how to put on a camellia show. We have volunteered our time and energy to clerk the shows in different positions. Our club does not plan to just put on a camellia show, but to put on a great camellia show! We want the judges and attendees to want to come back again and again.”

In attendance were Representative Chris Sells, Greenville City Council members, Butler County Commissioners, Alabama Living Magazine writers, and personal friends of Barbara Middleton who were there to join the enthusiastic crowd and learn more about the Camellia Show. Society members showcased a beautiful Christmas themed reception afterward. 

Camellia Society Show Chairman Helena Shirley said it was an honor to commemorate the upcoming show. 

“The show will include more than 1,000 camellias from all over the southeast, as well as right here in Greenville,” Shirley said. “Blooms will be evaluated by 26 judges sanctioned by The American Camellia Society. Locals are encouraged to enter their own blooms in competition for monetary prizes. We anticipate great attendance at our camellia show.”

Society members said they hope to use this Greenville history as a way to help the town continue to thrive and feel pride for the Camellia City that it is.