Sunshine, camellias are nature’s wonders

Published 3:11 pm Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Leila Case

As I write, it is pouring rain but thankfully it has stopped and the sun is shining at least for a few days. I think we’ve had enough pennies from heaven for a while. Sunshine is what we are hoping to have more of as we slowly move into spring.

Americus/Sumter County has had an enormous amount of rain this fall and winter – just how many inches I do not know.

The rain coupled with freezing temperatures apparently did not severely harm the few camellia bushes in our side yard – the two varieties have been blooming for the past several months. The low temps slightly burned the petals.

This is the peak of camellia season when the most varieties are in bloom. Therefore with the sun shining I took the opportunity and the suggestion of former Georgia Sen. George Hooks to visit historic Oak Grove Cemetery’s camellia garden to see what variety is in blossom. Some of the camellias are just now budding while others are in full bloom. It depends on the variety. One of the most beautiful and showy is the Frank Howser variety located on the Hooks family lot – the bush is laden with gorgeous, showy bright pink blooms and is putting on quite a show right now.

The camellia garden at Oak Grove was created after the property was severely damaged during the March 1, 2007 tornado. Fierce winds toppled hundreds of century-old-trees, especially those in the historic section. After the property was cleaned up and downed trees removed, Hooks along with the late Manson Markette, local nursery man and camellia enthusiast, decided to beautify the historic section by planting camellias even though it gets full sun. Actually, it turned out to be ideal because the camellia plants have grown and thrived over the years.

Oak Grove’s camellia garden features more than 33 varieties. A metal marker is attached at the base of each one with its name and is duly registered with the National Camellia Society at Massee Lane Gardens near Ft. Valley.

The first of the camellia blooming period begins in September and continues until March and into April; however, more varieties bloom this month than any other time and provide color to an otherwise dreary winter landscape. Camellia blooms range in color from variegated to shades of red, white, yellow, pink and coral and in diameter from large showy blooms to tiny, petite blossoms.

So visit Historic Oak Grove’s camellia garden located just inside the Rees Street entrance. The flowers are beautiful and will cheer you up after all the rain and cold weather we’ve experienced this winter along with the quarantine from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Other camellia gardens you might want to stroll through are located at the Lee Council House and on the south side of Calvary Episcopal Church. Both were designed by the late Mr. Markette.

Elsewhere, congratulations to Courtney Minnix, owner of Pointer Mercantile on Jackson Street – the chic boutique specializing in ladies and menswear celebrated its first anniversary this week.

Happy birthday to MaryAnn Hooks Hammack and Phyllis Tucker and happy 23rd wedding anniversary to Rick and Genie Powell.