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Historic Site has camellia legacy
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It is nearing peak camellia blooming time at LeConte-Woodmanston. Plan to visit by early February for the best show.
In a speech before the Southern Central Agricultural Society in 1851, the Rev. Stephen Elliott said, “… the oleanders and camellias are rapidly becoming weeds in the eastern counties of the state. In many of the gardens in Savannah and especially in the grounds of the late Mr. LeConte of Liberty County, there are seasons of the year when one literally walks upon camellias and their seed is freely matured in the open air.”
The South has been engaged in an “on again, off again” love affair with the camellia for 200 years. Of the more than 2,300 cultivars registered with the American Camellia Society, 550 are Georgians. Louis LeConte has been credited with being among the first to bring camellias into the country, planting and nurturing them at the family’s Woodmanston plantation.
George D. Lowe, an authority on the horticultural history of the Georgia coast, said in 1930, “In the LeConte gardens, camellia japonica reached its American peak.”
By the time the site was rediscovered in 1971, all but one of the camellias had been taken off the site. Somewhere near, probably in Liberty County, offshoots of these camellias may still exist, and the LeConte-Woodmanston Foundation would be thrilled to relocate these plants for propagation purposes.
This past year, the foundation was notified by the American Camellia Society that the historic Woodmanston site has been included in the East Coast portion of the National Camellia Trail. We have made a commitment to plant “The Georgia Collection” at the site during the next two years. A list of all 550 Georgia cultivars, with their current status at Woodmanston, is posted on our Web site. A printed copy of the list can be provided for a $4 donation for printing and mailing. The list also can be e-mailed in Excel format at no charge. If you have a registered Georgia cultivar you wish to donate, or wish to make a monetary contribution for this project, e-mail the LeConte-Woodmanston Foundation at or call 884-6500 for more information on how you can help.
Also, join us for Super Saturdays, the first Saturday of each month from 10 a.m.-noon. The Feb. 7 events will feature a camellia workshop and birding for beginners for adults, junior naturalist programs age 6-16 and our arts-based nature program for preschoolers. The cost is $2 per person or $5 per family. Bring a picnic lunch.
Or visit on Super Museum Sunday, Feb. 8, from noon-4 p.m. Admission is free and there will be guided tours.

Evans heads up the Leconte-Woodmanston Foundation board.
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