Organizations: American Camellia Society
If the glories of this spring’s camellia crop are still fresh in your mind – or better yet, in your yard – and have inspired you to learn more about the plant, you’re in luck.
Georgia is home to the American Camellia Society. Founded in 1945, the organization settled in its current home, Fort Valley’s Masse Lane Gardens, in 1968 and celebrates its 40th anniversary there this year.
The grounds are home to nine acres of camellia varieties – on view during “Camellia Days,” which run from November through March – along with other gardens.
The group supports interest in, research on and classification of new varieties of its namesake shrub, which grows from New England, down the coast, across the Southeast and Southwest to California and north to Washington State.
Membership is open to gardeners as well as “anyone who simply loves and appreciates the beauty that flowers bring to our lives,” says the society’s executive director, Sandi Byrd.
Members receive The Camellia Journal, a quarterly magazine, and The American Camellia Yearbook. Another benefit, Byrd says, is “expert knowledge on camellias from sources such as our staff horticulturist, Douglas Ruhren.”
In addition, a wealth of information on topics such as cultivation, propagation and diseases is available on the group’s website, which also offers a lively discussion board. “We knew if we were to grow ACS we would have to be prominent on the web,” Byrd says.
Research also is on the agenda. Byrd says ACS member and Horticulture Committee Chair Dr. Clifford Parks of Chapel Hill, NC, has been partnering for years with Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania to develop more cold-hardy varieties. Closer to home, she adds, “Fort Valley State University is doing some interesting work on plant DNA. We hope to work collaboratively in accessing foundation funds [to] support that research.”
The group also sponsors an annual American Camellia Conference, held in February, and provides judges for a national circuit of camellia shows. Members can even apply for ACS training to become judges.