trending 13 Many of the varieties, including some at the historic Burgwin-Wright House gardens in downtown Wilmington and the seaside estate of Pembroke and Sarah Jones, now Airlie Gardens, are well over 50 years old. With the popularization of at-home gardening clubs in the 1950s, camellias, which thrive during the temperate winters of eastern North Carolina and typically bloom between October and February, became a popu-lar flowering shrub for locals who like a year-round garden. Many Wilmingtonians began to share their love of gardening with each other, often trading secrets and working together to build a like-minded than 1M,000o rebl ooms thwe 6ill5t hbe a dninspluaaly eTd diduerwinagte r Cata mtheel lNia eCwl uHb aSnhovower CouFnteybr Auarrbyo re28t.u m, www.wrightsvillebeachmagazine.com WBM community. Soon after the popularization of these unofficial at-home meetups, more established clubs, such as the Tidewater Camellia Club, formed. These clubs offered members the ability to meet with many other gardeners to share the love for the blossoms, allowed enthusiasts to host and participate in local shows, and later afforded them the opportunity to compete in regional and national shows, much like the one that will be hosted at the New Hanover County Arboretum this month. In other households, cultivating camellias is a family tradition, as it is for Wilmington resident Trudy Miller. “I remember tending to the flowers with my grandmother, in North Jersey, as a child, and all throughout my adolescence and into college,” Miller recalls. “So when I moved to Wilmington with my husband, I asked my mother if I could take them with me. They have been planted at our house since we moved here, nearly 20 years ago, and they are something that I shared with my daughter and now get to share with my grandchildren.” Despite the limited space they had while moving, Miller ensured her half of the camellias — Camellia sasanquas, which would bloom in the fall, just months after she moved, were safely transported all the way from New Jersey. Years later, while visiting family, Miller’s daughter was distressed upon seeing the lack of care given to the other camellias left behind and asked if they could take them home so that her mother could teach her to tend them properly. This added the Camellia oleifera variety to Miller’s garden, which can more easily sustain the cold, northern winters. It was then Miller realized the practice of nurturing and maintaining the shrubs was something that she could, and would, share with her family and friends. Miller isn’t planning to enter this year’s camellia competition, but she is excited to go and see what everyone has put together. “It is wonderful to have events like these,” Miller says. “They allow me to meet other people who have the same love and passion about these flowers as I do. I also love to hear their stories about how they started gardening — many of them also garden together as a family!” More than 1,000 blooms will be displayed during the 65th annual Tidewater Camellia Club Show at the New Hanover County Arboretum, February 28. Visitors will no doubt have their favorites, and the official judging will be done by representatives from the American Camellia Society. Plants will be available for purchase after 9 am. The show is free to the public from 1-5 pm. For more informa-tion call 910-509-1792 or visit the Tidewater Camellia Club website at www.tidewatercamelliaclub.org Different varieties of camellias grow at the New Hanover County Arboretum. Opposite: Seafoam. Above, from left: Tama-no-ura, Star Above Star and Lady Clare.
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