Camellias Australia National Congress, Wantirna, Victoria 2013

August 29 – September 1, 2013
by Barbara Werry – Hume Camellia Society

C.japonica 'Kitty Bawden'

C.japonica ‘Kitty Bawden’

Thursday – After registering at the spacious and well appointed Quest Knox Apartments at Wantirna, we were off to the Welcome Buffet Dinner – a delicious meal served of oysters, prawns, roasts etc., with attentive staff, and after lots of catching up with old friends and meeting new ones, we retired to rest up for the busy programme ahead.


Friday – Our coach left at 8:45 am for a trip to Rhodo Glen Nursery in the Dandenongs where Andrew Raper and Tony Gainger told us all about the modern and innovative propagation methods at their wholesale nursery. They are gradually completely rebuilding the nursery over its many sites, water conservation and reuse being one priority. We saw many beautiful camellias and rhododendrons at their various stages and movements around the nursery right through to their departure to sales. There were lots of oohs and aahs at the size of the huge ‘Kitty Bawden’ camellia. A fantastic morning tea was served there by Andrew’s wife Lisa and staff – the vanilla slice were something to remember.


 Andrew Raper & Rhodo Glen Nursery


We visited the beautiful garden of Tony’s across the road – the lovely collection of reticulatas in full bloom was eye-catching as you entered through the avenues of trees, and the vista of the hills nearby so attractive.

Tony Grainger's Garden

Tony Gainger’s Garden


We then travelled to Grants on Sherbrooke where we had another delicious meal, and while eating we could see all the native birds across the road, white cockatoos and colourful rosellas.

Leaving there we passed beautiful glades of tall Mountain Ash trees with tree ferns beneath. Next was the George Tindale Memorial Gardens (1893). A lovely mature garden full of camellias, magnolias, rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas and alpine bulbs. Sloping paved pathways wound around this delightful garden and took you as far or as deep as you wished to go. The Mountain Ash trees stood tall above us, and gaps here and there showed the picturesque scenery beyond.

C.japonica 'Apollo' and George Tindale Memorial Gardens

C.japonica ‘Apollo’ and George Tindale Memorial Gardens

Then it was back to the Quest and off to the Council Meeting and a Tapas Dinner.

Saturday – We departed again at 8:45 am for the National Rhododendron Gardens to see their camellia collections – not a lot out but those that were showed their beauty and maturity. A lot had been pruned very hard down low, and it was evident from mature ones that they had also been pruned this way at some time. I remember seeing them done this way in Cornwall UK. On the plus side we were able to collect some nice pieces of camellia wood for Des to continue his wood turning.

National Rhododendron Gardens, Olinda & C.japonica 'Owen Henry'

National Rhododendron Gardens, Olinda & C.japonica ‘Owen Henry’

C.japonica 'Hakuhan Kajakhu' at National Rhododendron Garden

C.japonica ‘Hakuhan Kajaku’ at National Rhododendron Garden

We then had a surprise visit to Cloudehill Garden and Nursery where we saw wonderful specimens of Japanese Maples, Beech trees with bluebell beneath and some amazing hellebores. Many purchases were made at this nursery.

Lunch was back at Grants on Sherbrooke for another delicious feast.

Then we set off to Ferny Creek Gardens for the Horticultural Society’s Spring Flower Show which included the National Camellia Show. Great plant stalls both outside and in, camellia sales were pumping as many found a plant of ‘Kitty Bawden’ for their collections. The Show was amazing, it had floral displays, cut flowers, bulbs, and a great Camellia Show. The gardens outside of about 10 acres are just wonderful to wander about, so much to see – the leucadendrons were at their peak – there were large crowds of people milling about and buses arriving all the time. A great day was had by all.

Banquet & Presentations to Colin Baird & Cassie Smith

Banquet & Presentations to Colin Baird & Cassie Smith

The Banquet Dinner was that night where presentations were made to the National Show prizewinners. Then we had a demonstration of Ikebana arrangements in the Sogetsu Style.

Ikebana Demonstration

Ikebana Demonstration

Sunday – The trip today was to Wandin to visit the late Edgar Sebire’s camellia collection. His son Russell showed us around the paddocks of camellias of all shapes, sizes and types all surrounding the old homestead. The seedlings were in full bloom – so beautiful – many bags of cuttings were taken by keen collectors. I do hope something can be done to preserve this collection and property.

Sebire's Paddocks of Camellias

Sebire’s Paddocks of Camellias

ContactSheet-0011ContactSheet-0012Then it was off to Mont de Lancey Home and Museum (1870), this was where Henry Sebire settled when he arrived in Australia in 1867. Lunch was served while we were given a talk about the history of the homestead and the Museum collection. This was most interesting, the gardens were very peaceful to sit in while looking at some very old camellias. The homestead is in good condition with informative displays. That night was the closing BBQ dinner with Andrew Raper giving a talk in his usual informative and humorous manner on the subject of “Motivisation – Action Meets Vision”. As always we were left with the desire to do more for the future of Camellias in Australia.

Mont de Lacey Homestead

Mont de Lancey Homestead and Museum

Congratulations to Jean Saltmarsh, Shirley Shallcross and all at Camellias Victoria for all your work in giving us another great Congress – it was a happy fun time for all, lots to see and learn, and of course great to catch up with old friends again.


Monday – time to head home, but first, some of us had the good fortune to go to the Melbourne Botanic Gardens to see the Heritage Camellia Collections with our guide Jenny. The gardens were beautiful, lots of people there, we had a nice lunch by the lake before leaving about 3 pm – what a great five days.

Photography: Barry Di Salvia – Hume Camellia Society
For photos of the National Show paste


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