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A first at 95th annual Sacramento Camellia Show


Bella Jinhua won Best of Show at the 95th annual Sacramento Camellia Show. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)
Unusual flower wins top honors as popular event debuts in new venue



Gary Schanz knew he had something special the moment he picked this big red camellia.

“You’ve got to see this,” he said before judging at the 95th annual Sacramento Camellia Show. “No one else in Sacramento has one.”

Bella Jinhua, a Chinese “sport” of a California camellia, became belle of the ball, winning honors as Best of Show.

Gary and Carol Schanz with their winning bloom.
(Photo: Camellia Society of Sacramento)
Held March 2 and 3, this event featured several firsts. After decades at Memorial Auditorium, the world’s oldest and largest camellia show made a successful debut at the Elks Lodge No. 6 in Greenhaven. Hundreds of flower lovers braved stormy weather to admire tables packed with camellias.

Among scores of perfect flowers, Bella Jinhua stood out as truly unusual. Its slightly pointed petals looked like painted satin, a deep near-black red with feathered crimson edges. Experts who have seen countless camellias stopped to stare.

This is how the
American Camellia Society describes Bella Jinhua: “The medium formal double flower is dark red with black petal veining on the interior and lighter red on the petal edges. The color will gradually change from dark red to purplish dark red as the flowers open. The broad, round and imbricated petals show a reflected light, similar to that of a rose, with a waxy shine.”

In addition to the stunning flowers, the plant tends to have red-tinged foliage, according to the camellia society.

A naturally occurring mutation, this sport was discovered by Poon’s Camellia Nursery of Jinhua, Zhejiang, China. Its parent was Nuccio’s Bella Rossa, a popular japonica camellia developed by Altadena-based hybridizer Nuccio’s Nurseries . Nuccio’s Bella Rossa produces 4-inch formal-looking crimson flowers without the dark variegation.

Gary and Carol Schanz, who both get credit for this show champion, have been exhibiting camellias for decades. Gardening interest runs in their family. This weekend at his first show as an exhibitor, their grandson Benny won a trophy, becoming the fourth generation to win honors at the Sacramento Camellia Show.

Benny and his winning camellia.
(Photo: Carol Schanz)
“(Benny’s) winning flower is Betsy Variegated,” Carol wrote on Facebook. “This flower was created by my father, Herbert Martin, named after his mother. Daddy must be smiling from heaven knowing his great grandson is continuing the family tradition with camellias.”

After a month of rainy weather, members of the Camellia Society of Sacramento were nervous. Would there be any flowers for the show? Would people find them in their new setting?

As usual, the Camellia City came through with hundreds of beautiful blooms and a big crowd.

The new venue proved popular with many show patrons and participants. Free parking and easy access to the exhibit hall were big pluses. So was the Sunday breakfast hosted by the Elks before doors opened for the show on Sunday.

Created by the Sacramento Floral Designer Guild, arrangements filled a second room. Due to space limitations, plant sales and camellia waxing were held in an adjacent hallway, which got pretty crowded at times.

That just shows Sacramento still loves its camellias.
Some of the trophy winners at the 95th annual Sacramento Camellia Show. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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