Aiken Mall will be in full bloom Saturday and Jan. 20 as camellia enthusiasts from five states arrive for the 55th annual Aiken Camellia Show.
"Depending on the weather, we could have between 700 and 1,500 blooms," said Jim Dickson, a past president of the Aiken Camellia Society, who is co-chairman of the show with Lee Poe.
Fifty to 75 amateur camellia growers are expected to enter the competition, which will be judged by out-of-state officials. The show is held during the height of blooming season.
Those interested in entering blooms are asked to bring them from 8 and 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The show will begin about 1 p.m. and will be held during mall hours Saturday afternoon and next Sunday.
Mr. Dickson said the show is a good place for people who would like to learn more about camellias.
"It's a great time for people to bring in the blooms that they are not aware of the species or variety," he said. "There are experts there to help."
Camellias are growing in the yards of some of the older houses in Augusta and Aiken, and many homeowners aren't aware what types they have, he said.
Having the mall as the site for the show opens camellia growing to a different audience.
"People that are knowledgeable about camellias would come anyway. At the mall, people that would not have ordinarily come will encounter it because it is there in their path, but then the light comes on in their hearts and in their minds when they see the brilliance of the blooms," he said.
Awards will be given in several categories, including best of show.
The Aiken Camellia Society meets at 7 p.m. the second Thursday of each month from October through March at St. John's United Methodist Church in Aiken. Pam Kolb is the president.
Mr. Dickson will help organize a camellia show in North Augusta in March. The show will be March 15 at Riverview Park Activities Center.
For more information, call Mr. Dickson at (803) 279-9451 or Mr. Poe at (803) 648-8249.
Reach Charmain Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org.