Episode 21. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
• 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
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.
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
• Signs of disease – for example mildew
• Petals that have edged
• Damage to petals
• Multiple Centres
• Colour Run
• 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
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
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
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).
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.
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 -
(Please be aware that once again these are my own ramblings and
Only a grower that has grown to a high standard whether in –
• Pot Plants
• Cut Blooms
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.
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
• 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
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
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…