Fertile field highlights camellia show

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, February 5, 2012

When she was a girl she lived on a smallred clay farm, but her mother could grow any kind of flower out ofthat ground.

    “Oh, she could get roses to come out of the clay,” recalledBrookhaven’s Edna Bishop about her mother.

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    As a girl, Bishop wanted to follow in her mother’s horticulturalexploits.

    “I said, ‘I want to grow flowers like my mother,'” Bishop said.

    Bishop seems to be doing a pretty good job so far.

    She was among the winners in Saturday’s 49th Annual BrookhavenCamellia Show. She took the Best Bloom award in the small growerscategory.

    Other local winners included Mike and Geri Jinks. The couple wonthe Don Estes Award for Best Lincoln County Bloom for the thirdtime.

    “I thought I had a pretty good chance with that bloom,” said MikeJinks, though he wasn’t overconfident. “You’ve got a lot of peoplethat think the same thing.”

    Blooms will remain on display Sunday from noon until 4 p.m. at theBrookhaven Recreation Department.

    Saturday’s show proved to be the biggest ever.

    A total of 2,538 blooms were entered, said show co-chairman HomerRichardson. That total easily surpassed the previous record ofapproximately 1,200.

    Richardson said a big show makes things better for everyone becauseof the wide variety of camellia sizes, colors and forms thatexist.

    “People get to see so many different kinds and you get to see thequality,” Richardson said. “This was really our best show.”

    Small and local growers also came out in high numbers, with 197entries by Lincoln County growers and growers with less than 25plants.

    Besides Best Lincoln County Bloom, others awards given included theThomas H. Perkins III Award for Best Tom Perkins, a camelliavariety named, like the award, after the longtime BrookhavenCamellia Society president who passed away in 2000. Walter andAlice Creighton won that award.

    Gabriel Olsen won the Mrs. Hugh V. Wall Award for Best White inShow.

    Richardson attributed the large turnout of entries to the mildwinter, which has allowed camellias to thrive.

    Richardson said the camellias need warm weather and can’t be grownvery successfully out of a greenhouse much farther north thanJackson. A hard freeze will kill them.

    Though the weather has been mild, Bishop was worried about adifferent weather phenomenon: rain. Her prize-winning entry waslooking good on Wednesday and she feared incoming storms mightdamage it, so she cut the flower then and brought it inside.

    Others though waited till the last minute so that they could entertheir freshest blooms.

    John Paul Smith, a Brookhaven grower who also took home someawards, was up Saturday morning with a flashlight selecting theblooms he would enter.

    Even with carefully selected entries, surprises can happen. PattiPerkins felt some larger camellia blooms she entered had a strongchance to place, but instead a miniature bloom she entered went tothe top-awards table.

    Unexpected surprises are part of the camellia world though.

    “You can plant a seed and not know what it’s going to look like,”Smith said. “They don’t look like their parents. You can hardlywait for the first bloom.”

    Smith has been growing camellias since the 1970s and his interesthas only grown since then.

    “They’re addicting,” Smith said.

    Richardson echoed the sentiment.

    “You start with a few and pretty soon you realize, ‘I didn’t intendto have this many,'” Richardson said.