It was one of the few things my parents agreed about: camellia flowers are a little bit special. Similar to the appeal of an old fashion county fair, the annual camellia show in Sacramento mixes nostalgia with the affection and dedication of people who love camellia japonica blooms.
Time for community
The last time I was at the Camellia Society’s big winter show I remember being about 10 and playing my clarinet for the opening. Forty years ago, festivals, flower shows, and parades were significant points of family entertainment. Today they are a quaint reminder of community activities that have been pushed aside for marathon youth sport weekends, shopping at the mall or nestling in front of the home entertainment center.
Our family wouldn’t have traveled down to the Memorial Auditorium had my son not ordered and was in the process of germinating camellia sinensis seeds or tea plants. A close cousin to our imported ornamental camellia bushes in the Sacramento region, the leaves of the sinensis variety are are harvested, dried and fermented into different tea types.
Home of the camellia
One of the distinguishing features of a real Sacramento house in my eyes was if it has a camellia bush was planted in either the front or backyard. I know we are all supposed to be into drought tolerant plants but camellias are just so “California Central Valley”. You can virtually ignore a camellia and it will continue to provide an abundance of beautiful blooms every year. Many of the hybrids are all flower petals that produce no seeds.
Perhaps it was the existence of three camellias at the house we bought that made me feel at home. Built in 1968, the former original owner had planted the camellias, like most homeowners, to provide some late winter color in a neighborhood typified by live oak trees. There is little doubt in my mind that the little camellias that were planted were also a nod to the ubiquitous presence of the ornamental plant in the Sacramento region. They probably made the former owner feel at home as well.
Camellia Show will survive
To a certain extent, it is kind of sad that we have lost many of our community cultural events. The familiar
identity of Sacramento as the Camellia City, annual festivals or shows and community participation all add to the fabric that bonds us together. Aside from the dedicated camellia horticulturalist at the 89th Annual Camellia Show sponsored by the Camellia Society of Sacramento there were few folks wandering the rows of tables featuring camellias from around the region in the venerable Memorial Auditorium.
Instagram Sunday in Sacramento
For my part, I decided to take various pictures with my iPhone and enhance them with the Instagram application. It is my way of providing another, if not different, perspective on a plant and flower that is forever linked to the identity of Sacramento. Click on the thumbnail to enlarge.