Margaret Hodge

Daylesford and District Horticultural Society members and friends celebrated their Winter Feast on Tuesday evening with food, conversation and an inspiring talk by a speaker from Camellia Victoria, Andrew Raper.

Andrew’s special interest, knowledge and expertise is primarily collecting, propagating and growing of Camellias. He has thousands of them in his garden at Rhodo Glen Nurseries in The Patch. Andrew’s talk was very comprehensive and included many aspects of the species and hybrids. The talk generated considerable interest in those attending the Feast. Andrew provided examples of many beautiful Camellia blooms and foliage during his talk.

Hortiultural Society President Selena Smith and Camellia Victoria speaker Andrew Raper (Photo: Margaret Hodge)

Horti Secretary John Binnion commented: “The specimens Andrew showed us were spectacular! Many Camellias are easy to grow in Daylesford and environs. And many flower in winter.”

For Daylesford gardens, Andrew recommended a few Camellias that are hardy, suited to a wide range of soils and flower in Autumn and/or Winter. These included lightly scented white-flowered Slimline Avalanche, pink-flowered Slimline With Love, and double deep pink-flowered Paradise ® Exotic Jewel. More information is available on the Rhodo Glen website.

The Hortis were joined in the Town Hall by several of the Friends of Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens. It proved an excellent opportunity for socialising and camaraderie. Selena Smith, President of the Hortis said: “Our Winter Feast is a highlight of the Horti calendar. This year, as well as our fabulous Camellia guru, Andrew, the Friends told us the news on their patch.”

Gillie Gough from the Friends gave an impromptu update on the extensive rejuvenation program underway in the Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens. A recent development is a stepped path connecting the rebuilt entrance gateway to higher parts of the gardens. Sharing of news between the Hortis and Friends is a delightful aspect of the Feast. Gillie observed that “It has been great to have this continued connection with the Hortis.”

Don Harvey, Horti Vice President, provided entertaining insights on flower and garden produce ‘show exhibits’ contributed by Horti members. Guests added to this lively and informative short session by chipping in their helpful anecdotes and reflections.

The night wrapped up with the traditional Horti raffle of a generous array of garden-related items donated by members. Special bonus prizes were potted Camellias and a Daphne very kindly given by guest speaker, Andrew. It was a great night for all who attended.

Daylesford Hortis can next be found in the Senior Citizens Room on Tuesday 2 August at 7:30pm for a talk by a speaker from the Hydrangea Society. Hortis are also on Facebook.

Margaret Hodge is a local resident and a committee member of the Daylesford and District Horticultural Society