Camellia Garden Dedication

Camellia Garden Dedication
By Julia Ariail
Posted January 31, 2015

An album of photographs from this event is available here.

The attendees at the dedication of the Sara Oliver Camellia Garden at Christ Church. Click this image to see more photographs from this event.

On January 29th, approximately 150 members of the American Camellia Society and 25 members of Christ Church and their friends attended the dedication of the church’s Sara Oliver Camellia Garden, designated in memory of three former Christ Church members, Mrs. Sara Oliver and Mr. and Mrs. Hulyn (Janet) Smith. The Rev. Dr. Dave Johnson, Christ Church’s rector, welcomed the group and gave the opening prayer. In attendance at the ceremony were Hulyn and Janet’s three daughters, Lauren, Mandy, and Renee.

The three daughters of Hulyn and Janet Smith, from left: Lauren, Mandy, and Renee. Click this image to see more photographs from this event.

Mrs. Sara Oliver

The garden is next to the rectory, and during the past few years has been cleared of overgrown vegetation and replanted with camellia varieties registered by Hulyn. The former owner of what is now the church rectory, Mrs. Sara Oliver established the garden in her side yard in the 1930’s. It was her tradition to add new camellia varieties each year. Her friend and student Hulyn Smith joined her in caring for the garden for over 30 years as he learned to hybridize new camellia varieties. Hulyn was an active member of the American Camellia Society and served as the organization’s president during 2005-07. The “Hulyn Smith” camellia, a prize-winning hybridized variety, is now grown around the world.

A camellia bloom in the Sara Oliver Garden.

This dedication ceremony for the garden was planned to coincide with the annual meeting of the American Camellia Society, which this year was hosted by the Tallahassee (Florida) Camellia Society. The meeting attendees traveled the eighty-mile distance between Tallahassee and Valdosta by chartered bus and personal vehicles to attend this dedication and to walk through the garden. The camellia garden, part of the grounds of Christ Church, is open to the public for visits anytime.

Members of the American Camellia Society walking through the Sara Oliver Garden. Click this image to see more photographs from this event.