A massive variety of blooms of all sizes and colors were on display at the annual Aiken Camellia Show on Saturday, and the show will continue today from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Aiken Mall.
The annual show is hosted by the Aiken Camellia Society with cooperation by the Augusta-Aiken Chapter Ikebana International and Bonsai Displays.
The show was first started in Aiken 62 years ago, and Lee Poe, co-chairman of the show, who has been involved with the show for 60 years, he has seen it grow and change over the years.
This year's show has been bigger, he said.
“It's larger than normal,” Poe said. “We have 2,002 blooms here today. The weather has been great for camellias.”
“We have around 500 to 600 more blooms than normal,” added Jim Dickson, co-chairman of the show.
“When it first started, professionals were exhibiting their blooms in the show, and that was a real problem when it started years ago,” Poe said. “It's mainly for hobbyists. The winter colony people back then were the main growers.”
This show draws many people, which is a great aspect for Poe.
“I love being able to walk around and talk to people and see their thought processes,” Poe said. “You make good friends here. I enjoy having the contacts with people you meet and work with.”
Along with all of the camellias on display at the show were many flower arrangements and bonsai from the other two groups that joined the Aiken Camellia Society this year.
“They add color and interest to our show,” Poe said. “We enjoy having them here.”
This year has been great in more ways than one, Poe said. Not only have the blooms been great, but the turnout this year has been, as well.
“There are a good number of people here this year,” Poe said. “It has been better than past years. You get to talk to a lot of people.”
“I think it's incredible that there are so many participants and blooms here this year,” Julia Leisenring added. “This is one of the most spectacular shows we've ever had.”
Along with people simply showing up to look at the display of camellias, Dickson said that's not the only reason the show has been so great.
“We had a huge amount of new people coming from the local area and bringing their blooms,” Dickson said. “Camellias draw really nice people. ... We had 27 judges come from out of town, and they were really top-notch people.”
Eddie Mann, vice president of the Aiken Camellia Society, not only helps out with the show but exhibits, as well.
“My mother grew them, which is how I got started,” Mann said. “I just started adding more and more bushes. I won the Best Bloom in Show in 1985 for a mathotiana.”
The purpose of a show like this is not only to display the camellias many people have grown, but also to bring people to join the society.
“We encourage local people to participate and would like them to join,” Mann said.
The Aiken Camellia Society will hold a camellia auction on Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. at St. John's United Methodist Church in Ward Hall, 104 Newberry St. N.W.