Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - 6:00pm
“A Camellia Legacy” follows the development of the camellia plantings in the landscape of “Green Leaves,” in Natchez, Mississippi, one of the original homes of the Natchez Pilgrimage. Seven generations of the Koontz-Beltzhoover family have owned the house since 1849. Camellias have always been a documented part of their story, and historic photographs and archives are used to tell that story, as well as descriptions of some of the other early camellia gardens in Natchez. Over 200 varieties of camellias were planted in the early 20th century by M. R. Beltzhoover, grandfather of the presenter, Ruth Coy, and many of these plants are flourishing today. About the Speaker: Ruth Coy is a culture keeper preserving spaces and knowledge of the American South. She is a board member of several historical, cultural, and gardening societies and associations. Her family has owned the antebellum home “Green Leaves” in Natchez, MS since 1849. The home displays seven generations of family memorabilia and most of its furnishings date to 1849. “Green Leaves” is home to extensive, historic gardens, particularly the family’s collection of 20th century camellias. She and her husband, Dr. Jim Coy, also own “Bontura,” another Natchez antebellum home, built in 1851 by a free African-American, Robert Dennis Smith. The Coys open the two homes to museum curators, archeologists, decorative arts groups, and the like, as well as for the Natchez Spring and Fall Pilgrimages. The Coys work to preserve and record the ancient camellias in Natchez gardens, their family histories, and Natchez history. With her husband and as an individual, Coy has been honored for her historical research and preservation efforts.