22 Sep 2008

Catholic High Preserves Camellia Collection

On Friday, August 22, four members of the Baton Rouge Camellia Society converged on a portion of campus that was formerly property of Violet ‘Vi’ and Henry Stone. The much-loved and cultivated camellia garden of Mrs. Stone, who died in 2001 at the age of 89, is adjacent to Catholic High School. Although the house has been razed, the B.R. Camellia Society members and the Burden Research Plantation are working to perpetuate the many varieties of camellias cultivated by Mrs. Stone and her husband.

According to Mr. Gerald Phares, president of the B.R. Camellia Society, over 1,200 cuttings from the vast collection will contribute to the development of the camellia gardens at Burden Research Plantation into one of the premier camellia gardens in the United States. In April of 2002, Dr. Patrick Hegwood, Resident Director of the Burden Research Plantation, was part of the first project in which grafts were taken of the more rare camellias in the collection and made a part of the Burden collection. Part of this developing collection may also become part of a camellia trace to be developed by LSU south of the campus.

Mr. Phares, his wife Sharon, Mr. Ed Ward and Mr. Ken Campbell were all part of the group that worked all day Friday and much of Saturday preserving the collection.

Once, when asked, ‘Why camellias’ Mrs. Stone replied, ‘It’s just the flower itself. The beauty of the flower, the versatility of it, the colors, the sizes and the blooming habits span the entire spectrum.’ Mrs. Stone named several new varieties and camellias that she developed through cross pollinating. One was the Willard Scott, named not for the weather man, but after her longtime yard man who liked the particular pink flower.

Current plans of the school are to maintain this site as a green space for the foreseeable future according to Gene Tullier, CHS president.