The Festival of Camellias at Massee Lane Gardens celebrates the peak of the camellia blooms during the entire month of February.
More than a 1,000 varieties of camellias bloom from October-April at the botanical gardens, located at 100 Massee Lane in Fort Valley.
During the month-long festival, the gardens will be open 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1-4:30 p.m. Sunday. Daily admission is $5 for adults and $4 for seniors age 55 and older; kids under age 12 are admitted free. In addition, during the month of February, complimentary hot tea will be offered in celebration of the camellia bloom.
Professionally guided tours for groups of 10 or more can be arranged at the cost of $5 per person. Horticulturalists and knowledgeable volunteers give tours through the gardens and talk about the history of the gardens and the individual plants and why they are special. Reservations must be made in advance, and it is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Generally, the tours need to be scheduled up to three days in advance, but reservations should be made as early as possible for the best time slot. These tours may also be upgraded to the Deluxe Box Lunch Tour, for $15 per person for groups of 10 or more, and includes lunch from William L. Brown’s Farm Market. These reservations must be made at least a week in advance.
To engage children and help them explore the gardens, kids can enjoy a free, nature scavenger hunt. The children are given egg cartons with lists of items taped on them of things they can find in the garden. Some of the items might include leaves, seeds, and petals.
The festival finale will be the Middle Georgia Camellia Society and Flint Energies Camellia Show which will be held Feb. 24-25 at Massee Lane Gardens.
Experts will be on hand to help novice exhibitors prepare blooms for entry and help identify them. There will be 40 award categories, with a Best Bloom and runner-up in each category. In addition, there will also be a Court of Honor. There is no cost to enter blooms. Bloom entry will start at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and will close at 10:30 a.m. for judging. Once the judging is over, it will be free and open to the public from 1-4:30 p.m. Saturday and from 1-4 p.m. Sunday
Live camellias will also be available for sale. Prices start at $28 for 3-gallon pots that are well established and ready to plant. Reservations for garden tours and luncheons can be made by calling 877-422- 6355.