More than 1,000 flowers, nicknamed the Queen of Winter, were judged at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens over the weekend.
The Gainesville Camellia Society hosted its 41st annual show, which drew in gardeners from Florida and Georgia. During the contest, the slow-growing flowers could win one of two awards: best in show or runner-up, said John Swanson, the president of the Gainesville Camellia Society.
Growers whose flowers won best in show earned a cash prize of about $20, Swanson said, but people are generally more interested in the honor itself.
“Some people just want to be able to say ‘I got best in show,’ and that’s all they need,” he said.
About 30 judges, certified by the American Camellia Society, walked around camellia-covered tables, Swanson said.
Head judge Eileen Hart has judged flowers, including camellias, since 1988. She said she looks for correct size, color and shape when determining winners.
“Sometimes, a bloom just stands out, and you know that’s the one,” she said.
Hart said judges study blooms for years and have to pass a test in order to be a judge in the competition.
In comparison to other flowers, Swanson said camellias are one of the only plants that thrive in the cold.
“Camellias are called the ‘Queen of Winter,’” Swanson said. “It keeps its leaves during the wintertime, so they’re a beautiful ornamental plant for your yard.”
Gainesville Camellia Society member Linda Green helps set up the cards placed by entry flowers. More than 1,000 camellias were entered.