Community News: Camellia Society brings blossoms

The Pomona Valley Camellia Society hosted its 67th annual show Saturday and Sunday, filling the La Verne Community Center with award winning camellia blossoms. Those who entered their flowers were awarded with various pieces of decorative crystal. Monthly meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month at the La Verne Community Center. / photo by Amanda Nieto

Kristine Delgadillo
Staff Writer

The Pomona Valley Camellia Society had its 67th annual camellia show on Saturday and Sunday at the La Verne Community Center, showcasing the best camellias in the Pomona Valley area.

The show was set up with countless tables and booths inside the ballroom-style venue of the La Verne Community Center.

Each table held the brightly colored camellia whose colors ranged from yellow, pink, white, and red.

Camellia growers and other plant growers from all around the Pomona Valley came to see the variety of color, size, and unusual scents these flowers carry.

“My favorite part about growing is hearing people say they had no idea there were so many varieties of camellias,” said chairwoman Carol Stickley, La Verne resident who has been growing camellias for about 10 years after her father introduced her to the art.

“Their eyes get big and it’s very cool. I would like more people, especially the younger generation to get more involved because it really is rewarding and it’s fun.”

The show started with set up Saturday morning and competitors arrived as early as 7 a.m. to perfect the flower displays for the public.

Camellias, flowers native to Asia, have thousands of hybrid species that have been created by hybrid planters through the years.

The vast number of categories these flowers can be grown in ranges in the thousands.

“I really love it and I’ve been doing it for so long because they are just so beautiful and it’s a fun thing to do with other people,” said Merrilee Gray, president of the Pomona Valley Camellia Society and Claremont resident.

“It really brings the community together and we all work together so it’s fun.”

Gray also teaches classes on how to grow camellias in La Verne and enjoys seeing her student’s flowers in the show.

Camellias are unique not only because they have a countless variety, but they normally do not carry a scent and can take anywhere from seven to 12 years to grow from a seedling to a full grown flower.

The award categories at the Society’s show included best all-around, best hybrid plant, best scent, and then broke down even further by separating the mini, small, medium, and large flowers, along with those that had scent and those that did not.

“Camellia growing really has become something that I love doing and the flowers are just so absolutely beautiful that it never gets boring,” said Nancy Kress, one of the hosts for the show and an Upland resident.

Kress first started out by taking classes on how to grow camellias from Grey over 10 years ago.

“I’m not as good [of a grower] as Merilee but one day I hope to be as experienced as her.”

The Camellia Society’s annual show also offers other viewing attractions, such as a flower pruning demonstration, as well as camellia identification booths.

Kristine Delgadillo can be reached at

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