For those of you who have never been to a rose show, here’s how it goes:
The doors opened at 6:00 in the morning. Exhibitors staked out territory to prepare their roses ... staging them so they would look their very best for the judges later in the morning.
There are ways to help the roses look exactly right, using what seems to outsiders like very unusual methods. These Q-Tips and cotton balls help hold the petals of this hybrid tea rose in just the right position so the rose stays open in perfect exhibition form.
All of this is removed right before the rose is placed on the show table. All exhibits had to be finished and turned in by 9:30.
The show room is divided by category and class, according to the show program. The placement volunteers (one of which was me) take the roses from the exhibitors at the registration table, and place them in their correct spot in the room. There are categories for hybrid teas, floribundas, miniatures and minifloras, old garden roses, climbers, shrubs, etc. By the time all the roses are placed and judging is ready to start, the room is full of roses.
There were eight judges who worked in pairs, with two clerks assigned to each team of judges (I was one of the clerks, too.). The judges have a list of categories that they judge. Each rose within the category is assessed against the ideal form for that rose. Roses coming closest to this standard are awarded Blue Ribbons (there can be many blue ribbons within each category). They also award ribbons for 2nd and 3rd place, and honorable mention.
The Blue Ribbon winners among the hybrid teas compete for Queen of the show. Each judge votes for the rose they feel is the best of the best in this group.
I placed two entries in the show. As I was packing the Jeep on Friday morning, I saw some particularly nice sprays of flowers on Elegant Design, a Ralph Moore floribunda from 1994. I cut 3 stems, and put them in my iced tea pitcher and placed them in the Jeep.
Since I was taking these, I took a minute to walk the rest of the garden to see if there was something else to bring. I really wanted to find an old garden rose of some sort … most of my roses, though, had nothing to offer. I found a flower on General Cavaignac that looked like it would compete, after a bit of tidying up and staging, of course.
My sprays of Elegant Design won a second place ribbon. They were tall and floppy, and it was really difficult to stage them so they stayed looking balanced and proportionate … and some of the flowers were a little past peak.
General Cavaignac, however, won a Blue Ribbon!! This was my very first Blue Ribbon for entering a rose in a show … what a thrill. My rose narrowly lost out to a nice specimen of Rose de Rescht for the best OGR trophy (an award called “Dowager Queen”. How unflattering).
At rose shows, trophies aren’t what we think of as trophies … you know, those tall awards with engraved name plates. Rose show trophies are usually something made of crystal, like a vase, a bowl, or a dish.
After the judging is finished, the show room is open to the public. Hundreds of people came, program in hand, walking the aisles of the show room and smelling the roses. There is no better place than a rose show to see how well roses can be grown.
This little bit of success has probably started a downward slide toward more rose exhibiting for me. I don’t have the time to travel the circuit to all the shows during the spring and fall seasons … but I will definitely continue to exhibit roses in some way when I can.
(written by Hartwood Roses. Hartwood Roses blog)