With spring creeping around the corner, it is time to prepare for the 70th annual Camellia Show hosted by the Fayetteville Camellia Club. The show is set for March 5-6 and promises to add some color to the weekend. Often the first question for those unacquainted with the flower is “why Camellias?” 

Diane R. Libecki-Long, the recording secretary and membership chairman for the Fayetteville Camellia Club, explains it by saying, “My personal opinion is that they defy winter and introduce spring. Camellias begin blooming in late October and various varieties bloom through March in this area. There are a number of varieties of camellias. They come in miniature, small, medium, large and huge. Their shapes are amazing. Once you walk through a show you see colors, variations and shapes that make you fall in love. While all flowers are wonderful, very few hold the same beauty as a red camellia defying the snow that may fall in January, February and March. Unless, of course, you live in the North, then the mighty crocus is a welcome sight popping through the snow.”

Thirty years ago, the Camellia Show was held at the Cross Creek Mall. Since then it has outgrown that space – and it is still free to attend. It is now held at the Ramada Plaza at the Bordeaux Convention Center at 1707-A Owen Dr. With this relatively new space, the Camellia Show has more freedom. As a result the show not only features beautiful flowers but also hosts events during the two-days run. From 1-4 p.m., Saturday, March 5, there will be an opening ceremony in memory of Martha Duell and an exhibit on the “History of Tea.”  On Sunday, March 6, there will be a Japanese Tea Ceremony and air layering demonstrations. Both days will also features artwork from about 250 students all from local schools working to capture the varied beauty of the Camellia. 

Of course, the highlight of the show is the flowers. Naturally, members of the local Camellia Club can’t judge their own show. Instead they invite judges from surrounding areas, as far away as Virginia. Each judging team is made of two American Camellia Society certified judges and one novice judge. Entering flowers to be judged can be stressful, but Libecki-Long has a suggestion, “For first-time growers, the best advice I can give is buy healthy plants, learn how to plant them – not too deep and not too wet – and just fall in love. We will be selling Camellia plants at our show and our sales people can assist in how to properly plant the Camellia. Membership in both our local club and the American Camellia Society is your best bet for education. Our members are knowledgeable in planting, caring for and showing Camellias and are always happy to assist anyone. We also offer members discounted prices on plants during the year and obtain plants from a variety of reputable growers.” For first time attendees she recommends bringing a pen and pencil to write down favorites to add to next year’s garden. 

Even after decades of working with the Camellia Club and attending the annual shows, Libecki-Long is still entranced by the many beautiful flowers. “I don’t know why I’m so captivated by them, but it is exciting just to see their beauty. The various shapes, colors, sizes are fascinating. When the weather is right and the varieties abundant, there is nothing like walking through the tables and spotting a bloom that captivates you,” she says.

For more information visit www.fayettevillecamelliaclub.org. 

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