Selling the group’s hosting factory to finance library projects

Selling the group’s hosting factory to finance library projects

A stroll through Melrose on Saturday morning may bring a sense of joy to those passing Trinity Episcopal Parish Hall, where they will see splashes of red, pink, candy stripes and white in the quaint community, known as a haven for artists and creativity.

“I love having camellias blooming in the winter to bring a pop of color to our yards when other plants aren’t blooming,” said Kenna Ward, chair of the Melrose Library Association’s camellia plant sale and breakfast buffet for the past nine years. “I have two camellia trees in my house.”

The fundraising sale will begin at 9 a.m. at the church, 204 State Road 26 in Melrose, with a buffet-style breakfast and camellia sale. The event will continue until the food runs out and the plants are sold out.

Virginia Walkup, president of the Melrose Library Association, has fond memories of her neighbors having camellias in their yards when she was a child growing up in Gainesville.

“They would let me pick them out and take them to my teacher,” she said. “When we moved to Melrose in 1971, our neighbors also had camellias.”

This was a welcome site for Walkup.

“They shared it with us a lot,” she said. “My aunt also helped start the Melrose Public Library and always had several varieties of them floating in a bowl at her house on Swan Lake.”

Trisha Murphy/Palatka Daily News – Virginia Walkup, president of the Melrose Library Association, displays some camellia bushes at her friend Cathy Warren’s home in Melrose.

The 3-gallon potted plants will be available in a variety of colors and will sell for $30 each. Plants will be provided by Mark Crawford, owner of Loch Laurel Nursery in Valdosta, Georgia. Cash, checks and credit cards will be accepted.

“Mark will bring a variety of what’s available at the time,” Ward said. “They usually have flowers on them so customers can see what they look like while in bloom.”

Proceeds will be used to purchase books and help fund activities for children and adults at the Melrose Library, as well as fund an expansion of the library’s new Camellia Room, including furnishings.

Melrose Bookstore will also have a book sale at the fundraiser, where each book will cost $1.

“Last year, we sold out 150 plants by 10:30 a.m.,” Ward said.

Ward hasn’t decided yet what type of plant she’ll buy this year, but she knows it’ll be a good one.

“They are easy to grow and produce gorgeous, vibrant flowers,” she said.

Trisha Murphy/Palatka Daily News - Walkup takes a closer look at some of the camellias blooming at home.
Trisha Murphy/Palatka Daily News – Walkup takes a closer look at some of the camellias blooming at home.

The fundraiser began as a Camellia Garden Show in 2015 at Chuck and Bev Ritter’s home on Melrose, Ward said. The couple has more than 1,500 camellia plants on their property.

After several years, the fundraiser moved to the church and became the Camellia and Breakfast Sale. The mission of the Melrose Library Association is to improve the quality of life in the Melrose community.

“By offering these healthy, beautiful plants at a reasonable price, we are helping to beautify the community,” Walkup said. “We also help fund programs and events at the library.”

The Melrose Library Association is open to new members. Visit to join or mail checks for $15 to Melrose Library Association, PO Box 54, Melrose, FL 32666.

Those who join will receive the group’s newsletter informing them of upcoming events.

Walkup said her favorite camellias are the pink and variegated pink and white camellias. She knows she will be looking for another favorite plant on Saturday to plant in her house.

“Floral names and cool names catch my attention, like Pink Perfection and April Dawn,” she said. “Camellias are very easy to grow and don’t require a lot of maintenance. They require water and shade. Mine was not affected by freezing temperatures. They are beautiful.”

Positively Putnam Florida

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