Episode 20. Exhibiting
10th August -
In another article later on this year I am going touch
on faults etc – which will make interesting reading.
Well I have been in my greenhouse and if I am being honest with myself I
have worked out that I have 16 plants / flowers that I can use to make
up a 12 board.
I set out at the start of the year to re-challenge for the title so I am
not going to break this board up so I can make a ½ decent x6 cut bloom
board up, and a couple of x3 cut bloom boards up – and try and get
amongst the prizes doing it.
I can only take and show what I have – so it’s the National 12 board Cut
Bloom Championship or nothing.
Pre-Show ritual from a week out -
Pre show planning of my main board -
Now in my mind the last thing I want to do when I am exhibiting cut
blooms is handling the blooms for any length of time when I am staging
them as this will reduce the chances of “damaging them” so this is what
I do beforehand.
My 12 blooms for my main board will stand out amongst the rest and
hopefully I will be blessed with more than 12 blooms to choose from.
These 12 blooms could change a few times during the run up to the show
due to blooms going over and edging etc. In the days leading up to the
show I will list my 12 best blooms and play about making notes about
where they will be placed on the board, whether at home or at work who
knows when a bit of divine inspiration might hit you.
I look at past winning boards from National & British 12 Cut Bloom
Championships to see how they have placed “colours” to make the ideal
colour palette, so to speak.
Before I cut my main 12 blooms I will know exactly where each one will
be placed when I stage them.
When I cut them, I will cut and pack them the way I will stage them. For
example the 1st 4 blooms unpacked will be the back row of the 12 board.
I will stage the bloom on the left hand side first then work my way
across, so the 1st one cut and packed will be the last one staged on the
back row and so on, so the 1st one to be unpacked will be the 1st on the
left and so on.
Exactly the same procedure will be followed when I cut, pack and stage
blooms from the other x2 boxes – as I get x4 blooms in a box.
Preparing to cut and Pack -
I retrieve the flower boxes out of the loft and check them over to
ensure they are ok as these are used to transport the blooms to the
Also retrieved from the loft is my Dacron that has been stored in bags.
This is what I use to pack the flowers in the boxes with.
Ensure I have all my cutting & packing tools ready – Stanley knife with
a new blade, bloom tubes, packaging tape and scissors.
Staging solution ready mixed – x8 teaspoons of Sugar, x1 teaspoon of
Milton & x1 teaspoon of Alum to 2 gallons of water. If you don’t want to
make this amount just half the quantities and make 1 gallon.
Cutting and packing routine -
During the day prior to the show I empty the car and drop the back seats
I will put a cover sheet over the dining table and bring my 12 best
blooms in and place them the way they will be staged on the table. Then
I will put my next 6 best blooms on the kitchen work surfaces then
another 6 blooms to cover a 3 board and a single cut bloom and a couple
of spares just in case.
My reasoning behind bringing them in early is twofold
• It’s a lot cooler in my Dining room than the greenhouse and
will hopefully stop them edging in the last hours before the show.
• Rain – trying to get my plants and flowers from the
greenhouse to the house in the dark and with rain is an absolute
bloom cut -
Now this is down to my own experience, I always cut a “spare”
flower first just to remind myself on just how heavy they can be and
acclimatise myself to holding a bloom again – don’t forget you only do
this one night a year. I remember once many moons ago I had a fantastic
Monica Bryce and it was going on my 6 board at Southport Flower Show, as
I cut the bloom the weight of the bloom took me by surprise and it fell
out of my grasp – to my horror it now lay on the kitchen floor –
devastated was an understatement.
This was a very harsh lesson to learn and believe me it has never
happened again to me.
• I ¾ fill the bloom tubes with my staging solution and stand
them in a dish ready to be used.
• I get the first box and put it on the kitchen surface and
with the Dacron I make a horseshoe shape that gently slopes from back to
• The plant is stood sideways on so I can see the back of the
guard petals and the backing plate. I put some Dacron between the guard
petals and plate. This helps protect the guard petals when I cut the
bloom of the plant. Then I get a tight hold of the stem holding the
bloom and cut the tape tying the plant to the stake with scissors.
• Swopping the scissors for the Stanley knife I then cut the
stem holding the bloom as far down as possible and gently lift the now
severed bloom up and away from the
• With the bloom now cut and held in one hand I cut “v” at
the bottom of the stem and push the bloom tube on the stem (right).
• Then I gently place the cut bloom on the “Dacron bed” that I have made
in the box then stick some packaging tape across the bloom tube the stop
it moving. Then I gently place and pack the cut boom with more Dacron
This is repeated another x3 times until that row of cut blooms is safely
packed and secured.
Then this whole procedure is repeated another x2 times until my 12 board
the car –
All the cut blooms are safely packed in the boxes
and are loaded carefully in the car along with the following staging
• Paper towels to wipe and clean your staging and wipe up any
• Polystyrene cups to stage your cut blooms.
• Staging fluid.
• A shape knife to cut your stem to size before you stage the
• A pen to write your varieties down on the staging card.
• Bin bags to put the Dacron in after unpacking.
• Flask of coffee and some food
Please be aware – exhibitors can be a funny bunch when staging
their exhibits. Not because they want to its just they have growing a
plant or flower most of the year and staging it is the critical part.
The slightest mishandling of the bloom or plant at this point could lead
to marks being left on the exhibit resulting in it being deducted of
points by the judges and could lose you places.
So don’t think an exhibitor is being rude, awkward or stubborn when
staging he is just concentrating at this point solely on staging his
exhibit without any distractions.
I personally go into a world of my own when I stage my flowers.
I would like to congratulate Stephen Jones for staging a fantastic
exhibit to win the British 7 Pot Championship, with Ron Aldous finishing
2nd and Peter Sourbutts for taking 3rd.
As prophesized a couple of articles ago Robert Bryce won the British Cut
Bloom Championship closely followed by John Chiswell who took 2nd and a
well-deserved 3rd place went to Phil Champion.
this Begonia grower feel -
When I left Shrewsbury if I am being honest I felt embarrassed in a
weird sort of way and I felt that I had let Brian Simmons down after the
support and encouragement that he had given me whilst doing the Cultural
Diary on the Web Site then showing up with a very poor board at the
National Championship. I even felt that I have let the Begonia Society
down especially those individuals and who have encouraged me along
during this journey. Let me tell you that it felt like a very long drive
home that day.
When I woke at 5am Saturday morning to go to work I realised that my
hunger for growing the Begonia was stronger than ever and this year was
not a complete wash out –
- I am doing this Cultural Diary which I am proud off
- I have even been asked to give a talk to the North West Area next
April as well as the Scottish Begonia Society next April and South West
of Scotland Begonia Society.
- I have been more than happy with my plants and my growing methods this
- And I have met some great people along the way.
Saturday 15th August –
The following day I went through all my plants checked them for
stem rot or any other issues and watered them with Provado Vine Weevil
Killer (that will protect for the rest of the growing season).
I then went through all my cuttings that are outside just rubbing out
any new shoots and feeding them with ½ strength Chempak 3.
After a lot of pondering whilst doing the above x2 tasks I think I have
an idea what I could have done wrong after I took my buds. All I will
say I will be a little bit more wary next year.
Until next time….