The camellia, with its glistening leaves and beautiful blooms from fall through spring, is the perfect antidote to the overcast skies and misty rains, so well-known to Oregonians. It brings cheer to winter-weary eyes. Its flowers come in so many shapes and sizes that it will please those who love a simple form as well as those who love the splash of the ornate. And a bonus—some are sweetly fragrant. It is truly the aristocrat in Pacific Northwest gardens.
Native to Asia, mainly Japan and China, the camellia has a fascinating history in its travels through Asia and Europe to the United States. Camellias arrived in Oregon during frontier days, with the oldest plant believed to have been carried west by pioneers and planted in Sutherlin, Oregon.
As one of the oldest camellia societies in the country, Oregon Camellia Society met for the first time in January 1942. In the 1940s, the camellia surged in popularity. By 1949, OCS membership had risen to 300. The society's motto was to "Know, Grow, and Show Camellias," and early flower shows drew huge crowds. The March 1942 show at the Portland Art Museum attracted around 7,000, while in 1949, attendance had soared to 25,000.
In the 1950s, the camellia show moved to the 10th floor auditorium of the Meier and Frank building in downtown Portland, followed by shows at suburban malls and the Portland Japanese Garden. Since 2009, the OCS show has become a highlight of the Newberg Camellia Festival in the "City of Camellias." Bring your best bloom to our show. You might go home with a trophy.
Then as now, Oregon Camellia Society is dedicated to promoting, growing, and caring for camellias. Decades ago, the society selected a "Camellia of the Year" each spring to plant along the circular drive at the entrance to the Shriners Hospital for Children (then at NE 82nd and Sandy Boulevard in Portland.) Now OCS propagates unusual camellia cultivars for eventual planting in local communities.
We welcome you to join Oregon Camellia Society.