In this issue of our quarterly newsletter, I am pleased to share with you some very exciting news. Arrangements have now been completed for the University of Florida to acquire approximately one-half of the original Gordy camellia collection located a short distance northwest of Ocala, Florida. Approximately 675 specimens will be relocated to the UF campus over the next 3 years, of which 100 will be added to the 300 camellias currently growing in the Wilmot Gardens.
For camellia aficionados, the history and a description of the Gordy camellia collection is unnecessary. However, for the rest of us a brief narrative follows. Clarence and Lillian Gordy, better known as “Gordy” and “Miss Lillian” retired to Ocala, Florida, and in 1986 began growing camellias as a hobby. Over the years, their hobby became a passion. Their interests soon included showing their camellias very successfully at local and regional events.
In 2007, the national meeting of the American Camellia Society was held in Ocala and at that time the Gordy camellia garden contained in excess of 1,500 camellias representing more than 725 different cultivars. The size and quality of their collection was exceeded only by their generosity in sharing their knowledge about camellias and providing cuttings to friends and visitors from near and far. Both Gordys are now deceased and their once magnificent camellia garden has been subdivided and sold to others.
We believe it is now appropriate to preserve as many of the outstanding cultivars as possible from the Gordy camellia garden by relocating them to the Wilmot Gardens and the campus of the University of Florida for future generations to enjoy.
C. Craig Tisher, M.D., Director, Wilmot Gardens