Live daringly, boldy and fearlessly!

glowing. showing off - 
the best ones which shine brightly,
winning best in show.

I have said it before and I'll say it again, I'm an exhibitionist.  I love to exhibit daylilies. On scape, off scape, in arrangements and in my garden.  In daylily exhibitions and in life in general, I live daringly, boldly and fearlessly.  I exhibit flowers no one else would dream of taking.  I try new grooming methods that would make some exhibition-purists cringe.  I travel hours to show flowers.  I have a helmet with a light on it because sometimes I have to select scapes to take to the show before the sun comes up.  You think I'm kidding.  I wish I were.

My winning exhibit of H. 'Charming Ethel Smith' (Terry 1991)- a daylily not widely distributed and introduced by hybridizer not widely known.

H. ' Big Bill' (Douglas 2006) winning a blue ribbon and a line of containers ready for exhibitors to use for their entries at the SMDS 2008 Exhibition Show.

I had an e-mail request this week from someone who is planning to exhibit daylilies for the first time this year, and she asked me for my "Top 10 Tips" for new exhibitors.  She said she realized there was a lot to learn about it, and was sure she wouldn't get it all the first year, but she wanted a list of a few things she should absolutely do if she was to throw everything else out with the bathwater.

The "Head Table" where the winners of each of the sections come to compete for Best In Show.

What would I tell an exhibitor who is entering for the first time?

1.)  Get a copy of the Judging Daylilies handbook FREE from the American Hemerocallis Society website.  This book contains the materials that judges use to become judges.  This book gives you the map by which your flowers should be judged.  If you understand what the judges are trained to look for, the battle is half won.  Download it here.

2.)  Get a copy of the Show Schedule as soon as possible and study it.  This is a small booklet that is a requirement of every show.  In it you can see the sections of the show, local awards, timing and judging guidelines.  It is considered the law of the show.

3.)  Understand the AHS Standard Point Scale for on scape exhibits.  This means understand that the flower face is worth this many points, the scape is worth this many points, the grooming is worth this many points, etc.  Here is the Point Scale for on scape exhibits, shown in the first column below:

For example, it is important for you to know that 50 points of 100 possible are allotted to the actual flower, with the five elements (color, form, texture, substance and size) equally weighted.  Judges typically start with 100 points and subtract as they note faults.  Purple ribbons are awarded to those exhibits scoring 95 or more, blues awarded to those scoring 90 or more, reds awarded to those scoring 85 or more and yellows awarded to those scoring 80 or more.  In a nutshell, all the purple ribbon winners from each section compete against each other to see which one goes to the "head table."  The winning exhibit from each section then competes for Best In Show.

4.)  Grooming is quite often the hardest hit area of the scale of points.  Some judges look at this first.  Some judges do not consider grooming at all - and neither do some exhibitors.  If you have not groomed, or done a poor job of it, some judges immediately subtract all 15 points allowed for grooming.  How to get around this?  Select scapes that need little to no grooming.  Leave the crooked, bug damaged, thin scapes in the yard.

5.)  Know which section of the show your exhibits will be shown before you get to the show and know that section 2 - large flowers, is usually the section with the most entries.  Use a bit of strategy and select scapes from your yard that are outside section 2.  There are typically 12 or 13 sections in a show - lots of other sections than just the one for flowers that are 4.5" to 7" in diameter.  Also, look for flowers you have that someone else may not.  Remember that only one exhibit per name class may win a blue or purple ribbon, so if five of us bring H. 'Strawberry Candy' to the show, only one of us is going home with a blue ribbon (if merited.)

6.)  Walk your yard the week before the show and tie some bright colored ribbon around the scapes that look really straight, proportionate and clean.  You will thank yourself on show morning when you are frantically out there in your nightshirt and slippers cutting scapes like a madperson.

7.)  With that said, only take what you can groom and enter with little stress.   Just because you have 55 perfect scapes in the yard on show morning, dont cut them shove them all in the car if you do not believe you can groom and enter them with time to spare.

8.)  Add cotton balls to your show day kit.  Cotton balls, or small wedges of soft foam (i.e. make up wedges) do wonders stuffed in the rim of the display vase to straighten up a scape or allow it to be displayed just so.  Remember, nothing below the rim of the show container is judged.

9.)  Talk to the judges after the show is over. DO NOT BE SHY to seek them out.  Ask them to talk you through some of your exhibits.  It is part of their job to educate and mentor exhibitors, so ask them for a moment of their time.

10.)  Don't be shocked at the ultra-competitveness and of other exhibitors.  Just like dog shows, cooking competitions, and triathlons (among other events) there are some who live to compete and don't mind stepping on you to do it.  That is part of the game, and is rare, but remember...YOU DESERVE TO BE IN THE GAME.

My overarching comment is to have fun. I said, HAVE FUN.

I could not put it better than George Leonard:

"Competition is the spice of sports; but if you make spice the whole meal you'll be sick."

P.S.: A great way to get your feet wet exhibiting is to compete in the "off-scape" division of the show.  Only the bloom is exhibited here, and there is no detailed grooming necessary for these types of exhibits.  Our local club offers very desirable prizes for both the off-scape and on-scape divisions, although the off-scape is judged by visitors to the show and the on-scape is judged by accredited AHS judges.


Anonymous said...

“I'm an exhibitionist.”

You know how to get my attention! :0)

Really good list of tips! With those we might have a shot at being contenders with you for a head table spot at this year’s SMDS show.

I wanted to comment on your tip #4.
“Select scapes that need little to no grooming.”
I think this is really important now that we’ve shown for a couple years. I’ve noticed that the scapes that we’ve done well with needed the least attention from us and have recently begun incorporating this into my hybridizing efforts, as most of this blemishing seems to be genetic susceptibility and it’s easy enough to select parents that don’t show a weakness for blemished scapes.

Thanks again for the pointers.

Brian Howarth
Oxford, Mi.

Nikki Schmith said...

Thanks for stopping by, Brian! I know I loaned you a cotton ball or two last year! LOL!
You wont have to contend with me this year as an exhibitor, but as a judge. I am glad to not have to compete against those adorable sons of yours. They give us all a run for our money!
See you soon!

Ingmarie We said...

Your blog is always interesting and entertaining to read.


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