Show Off

It may very well be my favorite aspect of being "into daylilies" - yes, I am referring to "showing" daylilies. Most daylily clubs across the country host one of these shows as part of their mission to educate the public on the merits of the hemerocallis.

I have been exhibiting daylilies for about ten years, have won Best In Show twice and have been a certified Senior Exhibition Judge for the American Hemerocallis Society for five. I have chaired five accredited shows and have judged, worked or clerked more than twenty. You can say its something of an obsession. "Hello, I'm Nikki and I am an exhibitionist."

Don't be fooled by the demure and dainty sound of a "flower show." It is an intense, beautiful, tiring, exhilarating, rewarding, fun and fabulous event.

In most shows, there are two ways to enter - off-scape and on-scape. Below, a panel of judges looks at an on-scape exhibit, which means the flowers are displayed still on the stem, or scape. The judges are taught a standard point-scoring system and use it to award a purple, blue, red or yellow ribbons. The highest scoring exhibits in each section compete against each other for Best In Show. So, basically, if you have ever watched a dog show, its pretty much just like those.

The blooms below are in the off-scape section. In our local show, the public votes on their favorite entries, not accredited judges.

This year, I think I took about 15 on-scape entries and 20 off-scape entries. I was up and out in the garden by 5:30am the morning of the show selecting which flowers to take in. Although there is no limit to the number of scapes you can take in, I try to use the knowledge I have of judging and the points scale to score the scapes before I cut them out of the garden.

I try to only cut those scapes that I would score a 90 or more if I were judging them in the show. (I also try to bring flowers that maybe new or lesser known - sometimes that grabs the judges attention and grabs me a few extra points!)

Here is the point scale for flowers judged on-scape:
  • Flower is awarded 0-50 points (color, form, substance, texture and size are equally weighted)
  • The scape is awarded 0-35 points (height and strength 15 points and buds and branching each 10 points)
  • Condition and Grooming is awarded 0-15 points.
    Total possible score for each entry is 100 points.

Below is H. 'Mad City Blush.' It was only distributed to attendees of the 2008 Regional Meeting in Madison, Wisconsin. It is a Klehm introduction; any daylily with edges you would buy from Song Sparrow is worth having. I grow 6 Klehm introductions and want several more, but that's for another post.

Below is my highest awarded entry at this years show. Its a miniature daylily named H. 'Brookwood Black Kitten.' It scored higher than any other miniature daylily entered in the show and went on to compete for Best In Show (which it didn't win.)

This daylily was first seen by me at an exhibition show in Alton, Illinois about 15 years ago. I stood 20 feet behind the roped off area of the show and saw this tiny beacon of dark light standing out from all the other entries. I asked a worker to tell me the name and it was on my wish list for a long time. Now I grow it in a favored spot in the back gardens. Miniature daylilies that exhibit deep, saturated colors draw me in -ones like H. 'Mary Ethel Anderson,' H.'Siloam Grace Stamile,' and H. 'Brookwood Wow.'

This is my friend Elaine, who has become the new resident show chair, and is doing a fantastic job. She is a lot like me in her obsession with the show. We like the competition and have had our flowers compete head-to-head many times for Best In Section or a major award. It is fun to have someone to share competitive fun with, as she tells me how it is and I do the same for her. I share flowers that are show ringers and she does the same. Next year we plan to compete against each other in shows not only in Michigan, but in Ohio, too.

And finally, quite possibly a daylily I will always grow and can truly say that I know NO OTHER daylily in the universe that looks like this one. It is prolific, tall, huge, well-scaped, and its pattern and color combination is incredibly unique. When you think about the fact that there are well over 60,000 registered daylilies...those are winning qualities. I have very little left to sell or trade in the spring of 2010. It is hard to find and takes my breath away every time it blooms. If you are interested in price and availability, let me know. I can get you in touch with the hybridizer or can arrange to get you some of mine. It is none other than H. 'Matchless Fire.'

This is me working on the daylily floral arrangement for our new Design Section. There were seven entries, it was judged by the public, and I lost by one vote. How fun is that?! The final arrangement is below (containing daylilies H. 'Indian Giver' and H. 'Banana Cream Beauty.')

There were over 250 entries in the on-scape portion of our show this year and many I saw on display that day made it to my wish list or was added to the garden this fall. I was exhausted by the end of the day (not to mention I was up all night the night before), so much that for as much as I love exhibiting, I passed up a chance the next day in Mansfield, Ohio to exhibit again. I guess I had a feeling of contentment at the end of this day, and that was a good thing.

If you think exhibiting daylilies may be for you, check out for some great downloads, or just Google "daylily shows" and see what comes up!


Catherine said...

Why didn't i know about the newest design?


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