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  • Renee C. Byer / rbyer@sacbee.com

    The Japonica-Small runner-up went to this Grace Al Britton variety at the 90th annual Camellia show on Sunday March 02, 2014 in Sacramento.

  • Renée C. Byer / rbyer@sacbee.com

    Sally Durante, left, of Sacramento and Carla Nabity of Carmichael joined other members of Northern California Arts in painting Sunday at the 90th annual Sacramento Camellia Show, which included an art competition.

  • Renee C. Byer / rbyer@sacbee.com

    Best Miniature Bloom went to this Tama Peacock variety at the 90th annual Camellia show on Sunday March 02, 2014 in Sacramento.

  • Renee C. Byer / rbyer@sacbee.com

    An Eleanor Martin Supreme won best of show at the 90th annual Camellia show on Sunday March 02, 2014 in Sacramento. It was the first time that Carol and Gary Schanz of Sacramento won best of show in the Sacramento show. "This is the biggest and oldest show in the United States," said Carol Schanz, 68, as she took a picture of her prized flower.

  • Renee C. Byer / rbyer@sacbee.com

    Best Non Retic Hybrid-Large went to this Lucky Star variety at the 90th annual Camellia show on Sunday March 02, 2014 in Sacramento.

  • Renee C. Byer / rbyer@sacbee.com

    This Eleanor Martin Supreme variety won best in show on Sunday. It was the first time that Carol and Gary Schanz of Sacramento won best in show at the Sacramento show. “This is the biggest and oldest show in the United States,” Carol Schanz said.

  • Renee C. Byer / rbyer@sacbee.com

    Shu Sebesta, center, of Sacramento takes a photo of a camellia at the 90th annual show. “I hope this reminds people that this is our city’s flower,” she said.

  • Renee C. Byer / rbyer@sacbee.com

    Runner up Miniature Bloom went to this Night Rider variety at the 90th annual Camellia show on Sunday March 02, 2014 in Sacramento.

More Information

Camellias take center stage at annual show in Sacramento

Published: Monday, Mar. 3, 2014 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Monday, Mar. 3, 2014 - 12:12 am

Carol Schanz was overcome with emotion when she learned that one of her blooms won top honors at the Sacramento Camellia Show this weekend.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” said Schanz, 68, of Sacramento. “This was the first time we won best in show in Sacramento. It’s very competitive.”

She pointed proudly to a variegated pink-and-white Eleanor Martin camellia prominently displayed at the head table inside Memorial Auditorium on Sunday. The flower was among 52 other prize-winning camellias at the 90th annual show, which is sponsored by the Camellia Society of Sacramento.

The event, the oldest and largest camellia show in the country, drew an estimated 1,500 visitors over the weekend, organizers said. Hundreds of flowers – in shades of pink, coral, white and yellow and in a variety of sizes – were arranged either singly or in groups on several long tables covered with green cloth. Near the entrance to the auditorium were 28 floral displays featuring elaborate vases and artwork along with colorful blossoms. Many visitors took photos of the displays as well as the different varieties of camellias.

Schanz and her husband, Gary, also 68, have been growing and entering camellias in shows across Northern California for 40 years. She said she was inspired by her father, Herbert Martin, who served as president of the Camellia Society of Sacramento in 1974-75. He died in 2004.

“My parents were into camellias, and I grew up with camellias,” said Schanz, who followed her father’s footsteps in heading the Camellia Society of Sacramento for the last seven years. “The thing about camellias is that when everything else is sleeping, the flowers and the leaves bring color to the season.”

Schanz, who had no role in judging the show, said she believes her father would have been proud of her achievement. “I felt like my father was embracing me,” she said.

For the Owens family of Sacramento, growing camellias seems to be an intergenerational hobby. Sally Owens, 80, said she has four camellia bushes, but her 54-year-old daughter, Victoria Owens, has a dozen.

“I love camellias,” said Victoria Owens, who in 2012 bought a house that had 10 camellia bushes in the yard.

After attending the Sacramento Camellia Show last year, she went looking for two types of camellias – the Princess Mikado and the Nuccio Pearl – and planted them this year. The other camellia plants in her yard are more than 50 years old.

Victoria Owens said she wanted to share her love for the camellias by taking her 23-year-old daughter, Avalon Owens, to the show. Avalon Owens lives in an apartment, so she doesn’t have a yard to plant camellias.

“I like flowers,” Avalon Owens said Sunday. “I think they are beautiful. I didn’t know that there were so many different types.”

Sally Durante, the president of Northern California Arts, plucked a camellia from her garden early Sunday and then, at the show, used acrylic on canvas to capture its beauty.

“I put this in my purse and it got crushed,” she said, holding up a dark pink, almost red flower that was slightly flattened. “But it still looks beautiful.”

Durante, a retired state worker, was one of 10 members of the arts group invited for the past three years to draw or paint camellias at the show. On Sunday, she completed a pastel of five camellias for an art competition during the show.

“It’s a great thing to do on a rainy day,” she said. “It brings the sunshine in.”

A native of Sacramento, Durante said she used to see camellias along Capitol Mall every day before her retirement. She also has seven camellia bushes in her yard.

“I like them because they bloom in the dead of winter,” she said. “It keeps the promise that Sacramento will bloom again.”


Call The Bee’s Tillie Fong, (916) 321-1006.

Read more articles by Tillie Fong



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