The National Begonia Society


2015 Diary

Michael Richardson

Episode 21.  Judging

Judging – properly one of the hottest debated topics at a show…..
   This is a hot topic when it comes to the exhibitor or the general public as everyone is a judge and critic.
   I have seen some highly dubious decisions as well as being on the end of a couple myself, but at the end of the day it’s only a flower and I am not going to argue and fall out with a judge just because I don’t agree with him. As the saying goes - everyone is a critic!!!!
One thing I will say is that I do respect our judges as they stay around so exhibitors can ask questions of them, and at the end of the day we have to respect them and their decision.

“Polite Showmanship” -
   Early in the year we find out who is judging at what show so if you want you could “grow and show” for the judge in the following ways -
    • There are judges who are partial to picotees (a particular one who likes Fairylight)
    • There are judges who just like solid colours.
    • There are judges who look for a small fresh clean flower.
    • You could grow and show varieties that have been hybridised by that judge – As there are a few judges on the judging rota who have hybridised varieties that are still being shown.
Basically you are trying to grow varieties for the show bench that might influence a certain judge if the decision is a close run thing.

“Other Types of Showmanship” –
   There is an art so to speak in the following – but a good judge will see them:
    • Trimming Petals that have edged – either by scissors or someone with sharp nails
    • Pulling petals out – petals that are either edged, damaged or deformed creating “holes” in the flower
    • Pulling warts out – This is either done just to get rid of a wart so you don’t get down pointed for a fault or because the wart is pushing apart the petals causing a “hole” in the flower.

“The Dark Side of Showmanship” –
This is one I heard about and have never forgot:
    • Back in the days when growers provided their own boards, there was one grower who made his board where the centres where less than 9 inches. This gave the illusion that his flowers where bigger than they looked since there was no gaps between the flowers.

Worst of the Faults!!! –
   Another point of interest to me is what fault on a flower is worse than another fault - for example;
    • Is colour run, bleed or blotching (left) - worse than a wart (right) in a flower
    • Is a centre that is not opened properly (take Tequila Sunrise staged as a cut bloom, most are still not open properly when shown) then how do you know if is hiding a double or faulty centre - worse than a plant with a double centre.
    • Malformed petal (below left) – worse than petals that have edged
    • Is a good flower staged poorly for example the centre is looking up and not looking at the judge – worse than a poorly grown one staged perfectly?
Why do I want to know this!!! Well let me explain, when I enter a show I want to take my best flowers, however being realistic when you fill all your entries some will have a fault or two. So I would like to know which fault is worse than another.

Top 11 faults – by my untrained eye
   Based on the above section is there a list of faults in order of significance for example –
The worst at the top and working down the list of faults this is what I think anyway
    • Signs of disease – for example mildew
    • Petals that have edged
    • Damage to petals
    • Multiple Centres
    • Colour Run
    • Blotching
    • Dodgy centres (left)
    • Warts – causing gaps
    • Curled / Looped petals - causing gaps (right)
    • Flowers staged where the guard petals are high off the board – Flowers that look like they are propped up by scaffolding
    • Flowers staged where the flower centre is not looking at you

The age old debate - An argument for “Large Flowers” -
    There is a skill and art to achieving 12  9inch flowers on a board.  There is only 6 or 7 people that I have seen who can do this, x2 of them are the “Bryce Brothers” and the rest are from Scotland. The problem when you grow a big flower is that all your minor faults are now magnified, so a small fault is now a lot bigger and easier to see.

   I know people will say that a small fresh flower will beat a poor large flower, to this I agree.

   But please remember not many people can grow and show flowers at 9 inches across so the petals of each flowers are touching and there are no gaps.
Yet nearly everyone can grow a small good one so the speak – so to put it controversially I will say there is no challenge in that – however to grow a “big flower” so to speak that is -
    • Not a “cabbage”
    • Not “rough” but refined and looks just as fresh as a “small flower”

Now that is a challenge!!!!

   Is it not one of the aims of our Society - To promote and encourage the cultivation of Begonias?
    • I interpret this to mean that we have to try and improve and move forward the culture of the Begonia.
    • So it is to this end that I think it’s a good thing, as far as I am concerned that we have growers out there who can improve and push the boundaries with regards growing the begonia whether it’s a Pot Plant (like Stephen Jones), Cut Blooms (like Ian Donaldson & Kennedy McQuiston) and Species (like Vincent Potts, Samuel & Elisabeth Kennedy).

The myth of a 9 inch flower in the greenhouse –
   When a flower has a plate on it the petals are pushed out and it looks like you have grown a 9 inch flower and you think and say I grow big flowers, however when you take the backing plate off the flower the petals drop back and you could lose a good ½ inch either side of the flower. This means you are looking for a flower that’s a good 9½ inches across so when the petals drop back you then have half a chance of getting a 9 inch flower
   However a small fresh flower should not beat an average large flower let alone a good large flower, because if everyone could grow a 9inch flower they would.

Judges -
I know we have lost some very good judges who I respected that are now retired, the likes of Derek Telford and Alan Harris (pictured)
and now Alan Bryce.


Contentious Corner -

Issue 12 –
(Please be aware that once again these are my own ramblings and opinions)
Only a grower that has grown to a high standard whether in –
    • Pot Plants
    • Cut Blooms
    • Species
Should be allowed to judge that group, whether at either a –
    • Local Area show
    • National Flower Show
I do appreciate that -
    • A new judge has to start somewhere
    • and that we are losing exhibitors
    • that means the pool to recruit new judges who we can be trained up is getting smaller.

What does the future hold (I do not mean to sound negative) -
    • If we don’t somehow encourage other members to grow and exhibit then in the not so near future there will be no begonia shows.
    • We will then become a society with just a website and bulletin.
    • If we are not careful we will end up like other Societies – that have gone the way of the Dodo
    • We could look at the way the Scottish Begonia Society runs with regards having a large committee, where everyone wants to join into help – You just have to visit Ayr flower show to see what I mean.
    • I personally cannot see the point in falling out over a flower!!!!! Because that’s basically what has happened over the last few years.

What can I do to help ? –
    • Carry on Exhibiting
    • Carry on contributing to the Website
    • Next step joining the ever decreasing circle of speakers and starting to do Talks and Presentations in 2016 (already in progress) – looking forward to that with some trepidation.
    • Carry on my travels both North & South of the borders to meetings and visits to meet other growers and have a good rummage through there set ups.
    • Put myself forward for election onto the Society Committee and help that way.
    • Maybe I will ask to become a judge one day – now that is a scary thought….

The final word on this is a re-wording of a famous saying -
   It’s not what the National Begonia Society can do for you, but what you can do for the National Begonia Society.

                Until Next time…


Michael Richardson's Diaries 2015