BY BRUCE BRANUM
The Greenville Standard
The City of Greenville has a new national accolade to be proud of as Beeland Park Camellia Garden has been named as an American Camellia Trail Garden.
The garden, which is owned and operated by the City of Greenville, boasts a beautiful variety of camellias, some of which were originally planted by the city and residents of Greenville in 1944.
Official recognition occurred on Friday, April 14, at the Beeland Park Community Center when the American Camellia Society (ACS) made a presentation to Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon which included a sign designating Beeland Park Camellia Garden as a trail site.
A rather large crowd of over 100 attendees were present to witness the presentation.
Tracy Salter, Executive Director of the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce, gave opening remarks and she was followed by Jan Newton, President of the Sasanqua Camellia Society, and McLendon.
Newton then gave a brief history of camellias and how they originally came to the United States and eventually Greenville and Beeland Park.
Nedra Crosby, Sasanqua Camellia Society Board of Directors, then made a plaque presentation to Mayor McLendon for his support of the club and beautification of Greenville.
She then spoke of Shirley Robinson and his efforts to also promote camellias, but noted he could not attend the meeting but was there in spirit. Robinson’s plaque would be presented at a later date.
Newton then recognized Barbara Middleton, President of the Butler County Historical and Genealogical Society, for her work with camellias.
She stated, “Barbara, your passion is camellias, everybody knows this. We appreciate your passion, and we appreciate this amazing knowledge of camellias you are working relentlessly to pass on. I think you found a very fertile ground in the Camellia Sasanqua Society. We are beginning to thirst for your knowledge and look so forward to your leadership in this adventure.”
Middleton was then presented a plaque of recognition by Crosby.
ACS board member Sandra Jones then spoke and explained the American Camellia Trail and how it stretches coast to coast.
She added that Greenville is the newest addition and would make No. 65 on the trail list. “We are here today because the American Camellia Society has deemed your city and your garden to be of significance to the camellia world,” said Jones.
She then presented McLendon with sign to be place in the garden.
McLendon then stated, “This is very important for us and it is a way to bring more and more people into our town and for them to see what he have to offer.”
The next presenter was Casey Rogers, Director of External Affairs for Governor Kay Ivey’s office. She presented Newton with a commendation from Ivey after reading the text of the document.
The last sentences stated, “Whereas Camellia Sasanqua Society has championed the camellia flower both locally and beyond, now, therefore, I, Gov. Kay Ivey do hereby commend Greenville’s Beeland Park Camellia Garden for being named to the National Garden Trail and I thank them for their dedication in preserving the state sanctity of the camellia.”
The event was attended by several members of the R.A. Beeland family, the Glenn Stanley family and the granddaughter of Lamont Glass.
Beeland donated the land for the park in 1933 while Stanley actively promoted camellias, and Glass was instrumental in having the Alabama state flower changed to the Camellia.
Alabama now has six gardens listed on the American Camellia Trail.