BY DALE BRANNON
In January 1948, several men officially formed an organization called the Greenville Men’s Camellia Society.
The late Aubrey Stabler Sr. was the first chairman of the organization, and the men were committed to planting camellias and beautifying our city.
They used camellias to design arrangements at the flower shows. The arrangements were set up at Beeland Park. Ribbons and prizes were given to those who showed the best in each classification.
In 1934, an old garden in Beeland Park was filled with camellias. It was planted in the lower part of the park.
Since the first garden was planted, a new garden has been added. The new garden of camellias is planted in the upper part of Beeland Park.
As you enter the park, you can view the first Red Heyme Camellia. It was the first camellia planted in in the park in 1934. The gardens will be viewed at the show in January 2024.
Shirley Roberson is the only surviving member of the Greenville Men’s Camellia Society.
Roberson continues to live in the Camellia City with his wife Emma Jean. He was very attracted to camellias, and as he planted and worked with camellias, he learned to paint these flowers.
His paintings are on display around parts of Greenville as well as many homes here. Many of these paintings are found in city hall and some can be found at the Depot. As you can see, he took a lot of interest in the camellias in this city.
One day Shirley got a call from a local bank. The bank told him that they had some money for him to spend.
He found that it was a balance of money the Greenville Men’s Camellia Society had left over from their organization.
Shirley could have used it personally but he decided to give it to a local garden club to help beautify the city with camellias.
This would be in honor of the members of the society. It was given to Greenville Camellia Society, formally known as the Sasanqua Garden Club. What a great way to remember the men’s organization of 1948.
The Greenville Camellia Society has been presented sign #65 from the American Camellia Society (ACS) designating Beeland Park as part of a national camellia trail. The ladies of the organization are now preparing Greenville for an ACS flower show.
It will imitate the flower show that was held in 1948 and 1980. The show will be held on Jan. 27, 2024.
For the upcoming event and information you may contact any of the Greenville Camelia Society members.
Mr. Shirley Roberson has many memories of these events. He is looking forward to the flower shows and the memories that remain.