Despite weather that's been a little iffy, the camellias at Semmes Camellia Festival February 2nd were beautiful as they always are.
Pink, red, rosy, white, striped and variegated--some with yellow seed clusters--the dozens of camellia blooms were striking in their contrast to the black table covering on which they sat. On each table, the blooms encircled a point of interest, such as the framed information on camellias from the AW and Betty Jarvis Nursery and a hybrid bloom, the Jarvis Red Vareigated.
The Festival spotlighted information about Semmes history and culture, and Carol Jarvis Amick and others were eager to show notebooks and photos from the Semmes nursery business and the town itself,
Exhibits that showed the beauty of the Alabama State Flower included a collection of prints by artist Lila Keen ("The Lady of the Camellias") and Carol Jarvis' china plates with camellias illustrated by artist Nicolas Liex in the 1850s.
There was a grouping of potted camellias for sale and an exhibit of healthy-looking plants from Garden Express and shown by Tara Smith.
The Camellia Maids, wearing jewel-toned gowns, welcomed visitors at the door and mingled with guests.
As always, the tablescapes took center stage, and their presentation ranged from simple to elaborate, all pinpointing the beauty of the flower.
For example, Mary Rodning, who spent several years in Japan, showed a single pink blossom in a slim green vase, on the crocheted table cloth, and a single word, "tsubaki," the Japanese name for camellia.
Carolyn Owens' tablescape began with a prominent sign that read, "If You Ate today, Thank a Farmer."
That premise was carried out through all the items in the exhibit. A long table covered with a handmade Sunbonnet Sue quilt. Several Holsteins, including two calves (boy and girl--you could tell by their ties and hat); a hen on a nest in a basket; a ceramic farmer; an old kerosene lantern.
And to bring more meaning to the scene was a framed photo of Carolyn's late husband, Ellis, a Semmes farmer. And of course, a variety of camellias were stragetically and beautifully woven into the design. Carolyn's tablescape won first-place prize.
Other high points to the Festival were Diane Moore's tablescape,"Happy 200th Birthday, Alabama; Sarah Wilson's "Camellias and Doll" featuring one doll created in the image of her granddaughter; Semmes Senior Center co-director Linda Davis' 'scape, which included a pen-and-ink drawing of the Center, the historic Blackwell Nursery home.
Seth Allen, a camellia expert from Mobile Botanical Gardens, gave a presentation on the care of the plants and on which grows best on the Gulf Coast.
To top it all off, Semmes Heritage Park (sponsor of the Camellia Festival) held Open House, and when all the visitors left, an elegant tea for the Camellia Maids.