Welcome to the wonderful world of the International Camellia Society’s Gardens of Excellence. This programme, begun in the late 1990s, was designed to introduce people to fine gardens that happened to have beautiful camellias. In the intervening years, we have seen our goal – to encourage good camellia gardens to attain ever higher standards – become a reality. From the initial six gardens given this accolade to the nearly 40 recognized to date (2014), the gardens are continually striving to improve the experience for visitors.
The gardens have been judged as featuring a significant collection of camellias along with information about them. Moreover, they are also kept to a high standard and are rewarding to visit. There is no “cookie-cutter” sameness to the gardens; each is intriguingly different in design, philosophy, plant selection. However, all support this common aim: to ensure that people will have a thoroughly pleasing visit, whether they are camellia enthusiasts or casual garden visitors.
The scheme was initiated as a result of a casual remark made by a member of the Southern California Camellia Society while taking a group of ICS members round one of their gardens during the camellia flowering season in 1996: “Why don’t more people realise what a wonderful show these plants make? You should tell the world about these gardens !”
Criteria for the scheme were duly drawn up and approved by the Board of ICS Directors. The first six gardens to apply, be inspected and to pass the stringent conditions received the accolade in 2001.
Any garden – anywhere in the world – is welcome to apply for recognition as an ICS Garden of Excellence, as long as it meets the criteria. A garden is encouraged to work with the ICS directors and membership representative of its region to compile a dossier that explains how the garden meets each of the different criteria and then send the dossier and any supporting material desired to the ICS Secretariat. The garden must then be assessed by a personal visit by an Officer or Director from outside the region, who then puts a recommendation to the full ICS Board of Directors for final approval or rejection.
The ICS Camellia Gardens of Excellence award is valid for ten years, after which gardens are re-inspected, following the same procedure as original recognition: inspection by an ICS Officer or Director from the region in which they are located, plus by an Officer or Director from outside the region, followed by approval or rejection by the Board of Directors.
17 June 2014
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