Festival of Camellias at Massee Lane Gardens

Festival of Camellias at Massee Lane Gardens

Festival of Camellias at Massee Lane Gardens

The 2018 Festival of Camellia features self guided tours, tours guided by a professional horticulturist, and deluxe guided tours with boxed lunches.

2019 Festival of Camellias: Celebrate Massee Lane Gardens’ 50th Anniversary
 

Massee Lane Gardens celebrates a half century as one of the most prized camellia gardens in the nation, thanks to the generosity of Fort Valley, Georgia’s David Coleman Strother, a founding member of the American Camellia Society. The central Georgia businessman guaranteed the future of the American Camellia Society when he deeded his private seven-acre camellia garden and adjoining 120 acres of farm land to become the Society’s permanent headquarters a half century ago. The love and care Strother bestowed on the camellias he selected for his private garden transformed each one into an exquisite jewel. The treasures he planted in the 1930s are still a joy to contemplate.

The 2019 Festival of Camellias will showcase the history of the genus Camellia, the history of the American Camellia Society, and the history of Massee Lane Gardens during the camellia blooming season with a live camellia plant sale, special events, tours, and box lunches. A history exhibit and art by work local students will be on display throughout the season. Located just a few miles south of Fort Valley, Georgia, Massee Lane Gardens is in full bloom in the cool months of the year, with the largest quantity of camellias in peak bloom during the month of February. Visit throughout the season to see all of the mid and late season varieties which will be blooming through late April 2019. An easy to follow map of the 30-acre botanical garden and museum galleries allows guests to tour the seven specialty camellia gardens at their own pace.

Massee Lane Gardens offers extended hours in February. The Gardens are open each Monday in February, in addition to the regular hours of Tuesday through Sunday. A free tea tasting is offered to guests each Monday.

Professionally guided tours can be scheduled for groups of ten or more Tuesday through Friday in January, and Monday through Friday in February for $5 per person. Box lunches can be ordered with February tours for $15 per person (includes tour guide and lunch). Guests may pre-order sandwiches on artisanal bread with a choice of ham with lettuce and tomato, turkey with lettuce and tomato, chicken salad with lettuce and tomato, as well as vegetarian and gluten free options. Each lunch includes bag of chips, a pickle spear, a fresh fruit salad, a homemade cookie, and a chilled bottle of water. Lunch is served between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Tours can be scheduled either before or after the meal. Make your reservations early for the best scheduling options. Call (877) 422-6355 to make reservations and payment.

A complimentary tea tasting each Monday in February will showcase one of the most famous camellias in the world—the common tea plant is the species camellia sinensis. Guests can tour the gardens and then enjoy a specialty tea from the Massee Lane Gardens Gift Shop. Tea plants are also on sale so that you can start your own back yard tea garden. A presentation on the health benefits of Paulownia Tea will be delivered at 11:00 a.m. February 6, 2019 by Lubana Shahin, a biotechnology graduate research assistant at Fort Valley State University. Shahin is involved in research exploring two possible options for introducing the fast-growing Chinese tree, known as the "royal empress" tree, as a multipurpose crop that could help American farmers establish sustainable incomes. The research is currently in progress on FVSU’s five-acre research plot containing approximately 2,600 paulownia trees. Her research could provide another avenue for farmers to market the crop. She said people in China use different parts of paulownia, such as the flowers, bark, fruits and leaves, to make tea. There is no cost beyond garden admission, and advance reservations required. Call (877) 422-6355 or email amccleese@americancamellias.org for reservations for the paulownia tea presentation.

February 9, 2019 will be all about Art in the Gardens. A camellia painting class using the “One Stroke” oil painting technique will be taught at 11:00 a.m. by artist Shirley Rainwater of Lizella, Georgia. Rainwater holds a Level II Art Instruction Certification from Dewberry University in Orlando, Florida. She was taught by Donna Dewberry, who invented the one-stroke technique. Registration is $35 and participants will complete an 11 x 14 canvas painting. Advance registration is required by January 31, 2019, which includes class supplies and garden admission. Call (877) 422-6355 to make reservations and payment.

Professional portrait art photographer and photojournalist, Judy Robinson, will lead a photography walk through the garden at 2:00 p.m. on February 9, 2019. Robinson is the general manager and publisher of The Leader Tribune in Fort Valley, Georgia. She will give a brief introduction to basic outdoor photography principles, followed by a guided walk through the garden to take photographs. The class will be a fun opportunity for beginners as well as more advanced photographers. Guests can bring their choice of photographic device, from a simple cell phone to advanced digital cameras. There is no cost (beyond garden admission) for the class, but advance registration is required. Call (877) 422-6355 or email amccleese@americancamellias.org for photo walk reservations.

A camellia waxing demonstration will be conducted by Jo Ann Dankle of Fort Valley, Georgia at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 13, 2019. Dipping camellias in a wax and mineral oil mixture preserves the blooms for days (and sometimes weeks). It gives camellias from the garden a sheen that makes them look like perfect porcelain sculptures. Waxed blooms do not need a vase or water. They can be displayed on a plate, elegant bowl, or lined up on a table top. Many camellia lovers will wax their favorite camellias right before a freeze, or to prepare a large number of blooms for party decorations. The waxing demonstration is free with garden admission. Call (877) 422-6355 or email amccleese@americancamellias.org for reservations for the camellia waxing demonstration.

Saturday February 16, 2019 will continue celebrating the enjoyment of tea. Debbie Odom, co-owner of Tsubaki Tea, the CamelliaShop Nursery, and Gene’s Nursery of Savannah, Georgia, will give an informative presentation at 11:00 a.m. on growing your own tea—Camellia sinensis. Odom will answer questions about harvesting tea leaves and preparing them for brewing. There is no cost beyond admission for this program. At 2:00 p.m., Peach Palette Pottery of Perry, Georgia will host a mug painting class. Registration is $30 and includes the mug, paint, and firing as well garden admission. Call (877) 422-6355 to make reservations and payment by February 15, 2019.

February 20, 2019 will be an educational day, chock full of camellia know how. Jim Pruckler, a retired Center for Disease Control microbiologist and Vice President of the North Georgia Camellia Society, will give a presentation at 11:00 a.m. highlighting the “New Grafted Camellias at Massee Lane Gardens.” Pruckler is an active volunteer at Massee Lane Gardens has been working on grafting important varieties onto existing large root stock in the species garden with remarkable success. He travels extensively and collects scions from camellia plants in need of preservation. Pruckler has been helping re-introduce camellias to gardens including Woodlands Garden in Decatur, Georgia, Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina, as well as Massee Lane Gardens. Pruckler’s workshop will help home gardeners who may wish to preserve a particular variety, or to use an existing plant as root stock for a new or more desirable variety. The workshop is free with garden admission. Call (877) 422-6355 or email amccleese@americancamellias.org for the grafted camellias presentation.

Peach and Taylor County Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent, Jeff Cook, will follow at 1:00 p.m. with a presentation on soil sampling and site preparation for camellia gardens. Cook, of Butler, Georgia, holds a bachelor's degree in plant pathology and hosts a local cable show called "Backyard Basics", which features tips on topics such as pruning and planting. The quick quips that make the show stand out are what attract viewers of all ages. Cook’s workshop is also free with garden admission.Call (877) 422-6355 or email amccleese@americancamellias.org for the site preparation presentation.

The Middle Georgia Camellia Society and Flint Energies are hosting a competitively judged camellia show on February 23 and 24, 2019. Growers from all over the Southeast will bring thousands of camellia blooms to be judged by American Camellia Society accredited judges. A special novice show class is available for home gardeners to enter blooms and compete for prizes. There is no cost to enter blooms and experts are available to help identify and prepare blooms for entry. Bloom entry is from 7:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. The show opens to the public on Saturday from 1:00 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m., and there is no cost to view the show.

Finally, on Saturday March 2, 2019, at 2:00 p.m., wind down with an hour and a half of yoga in the gardens. Nikki Hadbavny will provide mats and lead the class in the beautiful Fetterman Museum Gallery. The yoga class is free with garden admission. Call (877) 422-6355 or email amccleese@americancamellias.org for yoga reservations.

Visit www.americancamellias.com/news-events and click Festival of Camellias to view and print a full schedule, reservation details and special event costs. Call (877) 422- 6355 toll free to make reservations for Garden Tours, Luncheons and Art Classes. Massee Lane Gardens is located seven miles south of Fort Valley, Georgia, off Georgia Highway 49, at 100 Massee Lane, Fort Valley, Georgia 31030. For questions, more information, and reservations, call (478) 967-2358 or email ask@americancamellias.org.

Click here to download a full press release.

Click here to download an activities list by date.


Call now for Box Lunch and Guided Tour Reservations!

Make weekday visits for your group of ten or more even more special by scheduling a box lunch tour. Lunches and guided tours are available through March, 2019.

  • Cost: $15 per person, which includes admission, a tour guide and lunch prepared by Two Friends Casseroles of Montezuma, Georgia.

  • Guests may pre-order sandwiches on artisanal bread with a choice of ham with lettuce and tomato, turkey with lettuce and tomato, chicken salad with lettuce and tomato, as well as vegetarian and gluten free options. Each lunch includes bag of chips, a pickle spear, a fresh fruit salad, a homemade cookie, and a chilled bottle of water. Lunch is served between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Tours can be scheduled either before or after the meal.

  • Tours and luncheons are scheduled on a first come, first served basis through March, 2019, so call toll free (877) 422-6355 soon for the best selection of dates.

Massee Lane Gardens Hours and Admission

  • Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.  (And Mondays in February)

  • Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and free for children under 12 and American Camellia Society members.

  • Flint Energies Co-Op Connection members are eligible for a dollar off the regular admission fee (please show membership card at Gift Shop to receive the discount.) (Admission discounts are not available for guided tours.)

  • Massee Lane Gardens is located at 100 Massee Lane, Ft. Valley, Georgia. Click here for driving instructions and information on the gardens.

  • Call toll free at (877) 422-6355 to schedule a guided tour or to reserve a boxed luncheon. For more information, email ask@americancamellias.org.