Guest Blog: First-time Exhibitor - Stories from the trenches...

First, second or third?
I wonder how I will fair
in summer's parade...

"Things I learned at the 2010 Southern Michigan Daylily Society Exhibition Show"
Guest Blogger: Teresa Dillon | Durand, Michigan 

This was my first time to participate in exhibiting daylilies, unlike my brave friend Nikki; I am not known to be an exhibitionist. I hope that I do not forget what I learned from this show before I have another opportunity to participate in a show. Next year SMDS will not host a show, because we will be playing host to hundreds of folks during the “Great Lakes Gathering” 2011 Region 2 Summer Meeting. Meanwhile, I will have lots of time to ponder over the daylilies I would like to enter in the 2012 show.

This year I learned that you certainly cannot depend on scapes that are cut the night before to produce flowers that are perfectly opened. I cut several scapes just before dark, since it was supposed to rain during the night and early morning on show day. Working with scapes that were so near the end of the bloom season was a real test of grooming skills and patience. I sat for hours grooming them, only to find several of them reluctant to show their pretty faces the next morning because the skies were so dark.

So after 4 hours of sleep, along with my umbrella …. I tracked back to the gardens, to see what flowers awaited me in spite of the inclement weather. Of course there were some lovelies, so I clipped them and headed to the garage to start over. I was anxious to see if a trick I had recently been made aware of, for removing water without leaving spots would work. I took a cotton ball saturated with isopropyl alcohol and very gently touched all the dark sections of my future entries to remove the water. They looked great. Still not convinced that they would not be spotted, I prepared myself to discard them upon arrival at the show, if the spots were evident then. They were not!

Since this was my first time to enter daylilies in the show, I did not have a fancy carrier to transport my scapes. I could not see the point of making one until I was convinced that I would need one for future use. So I scrubbed and sanitized several large buckets of various heights. I taped the handles straight up in the center of the bucket so they would not fall on my scapes, then I added about two inches of fresh water to all the buckets. I used masking tape to secure each scape to the side of the bucket that was appropriate for the height of my scape and loaded them into the car.

The trip to the show usually takes 1 hour. This morning it took two hours, traffic was slow due to the pouring rain, there was an accident that stopped the flow of traffic completely and finally, there was a detour. I asked “Why am I putting this stress on myself?” I was sure all of my efforts were going to be in vain, and I promised myself, should it turn out as such, it would be a sign to me that I should not be bothered with such a waste of time anyway.

Once I arrived on site I had less than forty-five minutes before show time. Thank goodness for daylily show troopers like Martin Kamensky and Kathy Rinke. They soon were at my side and coaching me where to go and what to do. Had I known ahead of time that I could have my entry cards already filled out, that would certainly saved me some time and stress. I also would recommend future shows have a marked area for grooming, or a greeter to guide new participants. I was already stressed when I arrived, then I had to ask around and find someone to tell me where I should go and what I needed to do prior to bringing in daylilies.

Once I arrived at the show and saw so many entries, I tossed several scapes into the trash. Afterwards, I wished that I had not acted so hastily. I cut many flowers that I felt may not be show worthy but I feared that due to the late date of the show and the previous days storms in southern MI, we may need daylilies from farther north to make the show a success. I did not want to disappoint Bordines, or the show visitors expecting to see hundreds of daylilies.

So to sum it up for the things I learned about daylily shows:

1. Get your show entry cards ahead of time and have them filled out.

2. Leave for the show early. You never know how many delays may befall you on your way to the show.

3. Take extra flowers. Petals get broken…etc, etc.

4. Keep a grooming kit stocked: Show entry cards, knife, ink pen, return address labels, cotton balls and swabs, a vial of alcohol, scissors, masking tape, small soft artist type paint brush.  I had my kit with me and was glad I did. I was fortunate enough to be able to share some supplies with a friend. Do I have a claim to any of her wins???

5. Enter as many scapes as you can. The more entries, the more chances to win. After seeing some of the daylilies that the judges awarded ribbons, I wished that I had not trashed any. After all … beauty IS in the eye of the beholder.

6. Seedlings must be totally unique or outstanding.

One of the seedlings I entered in the show received a comment of “not distinctive enough”. I was thrilled with the size of the bloom, the clean clear color, the buds and the branching this plant produced on its first year of bloom. I just knew the judges would be impressed when they saw the scape, otherwise I would have entered the flower in the off scape division. How were they to know that it was a brand new seedling? I was looking into the future, the judges(as it should be) were only seeing the flower that sat before them. Another lesson learned.

I also learned that being a beginner can be lots of fun. At my age, there are not too many things that are “new” to me. I met the challenge and I am so glad I did. I left the show with at least a ribbon to account for every entry I made. I intended to use the show as a learning experience and once I endured the venture I would decide if I ever wanted to enter a show again. I know the judges did not know whose flowers they were judging so they did not give awards just to “suck me in” and get me hooked on daylily shows. However, I am afraid I am hooked.

Now who wants to see my ribbons, my rosette and my crystal?

(as seen in the photos above, wearing the peach-colored shirt)



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