Quitman to host camellia and garden symposium

QUITMAN – The Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Tourism Product Development team, in conjunction with Destination Brooks and the Quitman Garden Club will host the first Camellia and Garden Symposium on Feb. 12 and 13. The event honoring Betty Sheffield will take place at the Quitman United Methodist Church.

Speakers will include experts from Georgia, Florida and South Carolina and in turn will cover topics from landscaping to the history of camellias in southern gardens. Hugh and Mary Palmer Dargan from Atlanta, Walter Reeves from Atlanta and Tom Johnson from Magnolia Gardens in South Carolina are a few of the nationally-recognized speakers who will be featureed.

“I am thrilled that Quitman and Brooks County is participating in this prototype event,” said Bruce Green, Director of Tourism Product Development at the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Cultural tourism based on a community’s authentic heritage and cultural assets has the potential to positively impact every community in Georgia. The symposium is designed so that it can become an annual event thereby increasing tourism and visitation in the host community.”

In 2010, Quitman was selected by the Georgia Department of Economic Development to host a tourism product development resource team and at the time, the team identified Quitman’s namesake as the “Camellia City,” as a means to develop cultural tourism. Additionally, the team recognized the significance of Sheffield’s work in hybridization of the Camellia japonica that is nationally recognized by horticulturists and backyard gardeners across the United States.

In addition to the speaker lineup, there will be area tours of gardens and neighborhoods; including the Betty Sheffield Memorial Garden. Aside from her work with camellias, resulting in the “The Betty Sheffield” and the “Betty Sheffield Supreme” and other mutants of this camellia, Sheffield worked as a volunteer supervisor of the city workers to landscape and maintain the medians on the main thoroughfares in Quitman. She encouraged beautification of property by planting trees and shrubs and, of course, camellias.

For information or to register, contact Bruce Green at (404) 962-4092 or email bgreen@georgia.org, or visit www.georgia.org.