The 1995 Camellia Council, in Brisbane authorised the then president. Maurie Ashworth, to negotiate with a number of Botanical Gardens to take on the project of a National Camellia Collection. Negotiations led to a format meeting with Dr Philip Moors, Director, Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne (R.B.G.M.) on 8th May 1996. Dr Moors was very interested in incorporating the existing Camellia plant base into a national collection. Later in 1996 the R.B.G.M. Camellia Collection was made the Australian National Camellia Reference Collection by the Australian Camellia Research Society.
The collection is owned, maintained and operated by R.B.G.M. The Camellia Society’s roles include assisting in.the evaluation and identification of plants for inclusion in or removal from the collection.
The Camellia Collection in the Gardens has been recognised in the Masterplan as having special significance. For future management and development purposes the camellia collection has been divided into three sub groups: Australian raised cultivars, non Australian cultivars and Camellia species.
In general terms the R.B.G.M. aims to increase the diversity and representation of significant camellia taxa.
Richard Barley, Assistant Director of R.B.G.M., says “We are particularly thankful and indebted to Society members such as Dr Bob Withers, Mr Ken Brown and Mr Tom Savige and to the support of Friends and Guides of the R.B.G.M., especially Mrs Jenny Happell who donated hundreds of hours to the documentation of the Camellia Collection. There are now over 800 camellias in the R.B.G.M.