A Good-Deed Effort Saves Two Special Camellias

Mark White on left and Todd Bates on right.

By Mike Lednovich

Local developer Todd Bates, who is planning to build four houses on Kenneth Court, answered the call last week when local environmental groups contacted him about saving two 80-year-old Gerbing Camellia bushes that were on the property.

Bates stepped up at his own expense and contracted with arborist Mark White, owner of The Branch Manager Tree Service, to have the bushes relocated to Amelia Island Museum of History.

Bates’ efforts were recognized last Tuesday during the Fernandina Beach City Commission meeting where Bates’ efforts to have his Kenneth Court parcels be annexed into the city were being vote upon.

“They have been successfully transplanted, at his (Bates) costs, with a certified arborist,” attorney Teresa Prince told city commissioners. “Prior to them being moved, they made sure they (the bushes) were healthy and were able to be moved.”

Prior to voting on the annexation, Mayor Bradley Bean noted Bates’ contribution.

“I want to thank the applicant (Bates) on this one. The applicant moved those trees to the Museum of History and that’s a big deal,” Bean said.

Gerbing Camellia bushes are a popular evergreen shrub primarily grown for its beautiful, large, white flowers with golden stamens. These flowers typically bloom in late winter to early spring, bringing a splash of color to the garden when most other plants are dormant.

Kathye Reily, co-president of The Bartram Garden Club, detailed the successful relocation of the bushes, which was posted on Facebook.

Reily wrote:

“Sometimes it takes a community to move a bush. With the help of The Bartram Garden Club, Conserve Nassau, the Amelia Island Museum of History, Todd Bates of Rivergreen, LLC and Mark White, arborist and owner of the Branch Manager Tree Service, two Gerbing Camellia bushes were replanted at the Amelia Island Museum of History.

“The Gerbing Camellias were located on a property that is being redeveloped by Todd Bates. The bushes are approximately 80 years old. Lauree Hemke from Conserve Nassau contacted Sandy Neuss with The Bartram Garden Club about the bushes and the need to relocate them. Working with Todd, Mark and Thea Seagraves, Education Director for the Amelia Island History Museum, a plan was put in place in February to move the bushes from their current location to the history museum. After working together for several weeks, the Gerbing Camellias found their new home on April 1.

“The Garden Club is grateful to Todd and Mark for their dedication to keep our history of Amelia Island and to all who helped with this wonderful project. We hope the community will visit he history museum and check out these amazing camellias when they are in bloom,” Reily wrote.

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Mark Tomes
Trusted Member
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
1 month ago

Nice of Bates to volunteer funds to move the bushes. It’s only a big deal because it’s so rare for a developer to do something like that. We really need rules or regulations that protect all living creatures from rampant development.

Hunter Walker
Trusted Member
Hunter Walker(@hwalker00)
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Tomes

I’m not sure a bush qualifies as a creature, but…I do agree with your first sentence.