Colorful blooms will spring up across the E.&J. Gallo Winery administration building grounds next weekend.
The Camellia Society of Modesto’s 54th annual Camellia Show, a community event that is free to spectators, features a large exhibit of blooms, with hundreds of plants also for sale.
The show is the biggest event presented each year by the Modesto group, which was established in 1961 and has 35 to 40 members. The show is expected to draw thousands of spectators over two days, March 21-22.
Thousands of camellia plants will be on display for viewing, including more than 1,000 planted in the gardens of the Gallo grounds. The show is the only time the private grounds are open to the public for viewing.
“The public is actually encouraged to take the camellia walk outside the administration building,” show chairman Pete Warner said.
For the indoor show, camellias will come from 65 to 70 growers. In addition, organizers have a table set up for “truly amateur” growers who also may submit their blooms for display, Warner said.
So, what makes a camellia bloom show-worthy?
“It’s the color, it’s the form, it’s the state of the camellia. Is it exactly symmetrical, free of petal blight or other blemishes, is the color very vibrant?” Warner said. “It’s sort of a little camellia that says, ‘Pick me, pick me, I’m one of the best.’”
He said a grower might have a camellia bush with 50 or more blooms, but find only one or two among them that will be outstanding enough to submit.
Judging will take place next Saturday in the hours before the show opens to the public.
About 2,300 people attended the two-day event last year. Warner anticipates that many will not be fully aware of how the show and judging take place, so he makes it a point to address that each year.
“Sometimes, it’s hard to understand how a show works,” he said. “I grab groups of 10, 15 or 20 people and say, ‘Come on, gather ’round and let me tell you how a camellia show works.’” He then walks them through the process.
“They get a better understanding what we, as judges, look for when judging a camellia,” he said.
Warner said the longstanding Modesto show has some bragging rights among similar events. A group of camellia judges from the East Coast attended the local show a couple of years ago while in the region for a convention, and he was surprised by their comments.
“They said our show was one of the finest community shows in the nation,” Warner said.
When: 2-5 p.m. March 21; 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. March 22
Where: E.&J. Gallo Winery administration building, 600 Yosemite Blvd., Modesto; use the west entrance only due to construction
Call: (209) 576-0831