The Knowledge

What the judges look for

Every Class has its own judging criteria.

Still, there are plenty of common points. The following top ten tips come from The Tea Break Gardener:

  • Read the rules – if five onions are asked for, it’s no use displaying four or six!
  • Don’t display fruit and vegetables which are underripe or overripe – if you’d cook with them, they’re probably ready for display
  • Don’t overcrowd floral vases. although the judges are looking for quality of flower, an attractive arrangement will help. Floral foam can be used to hold the stems in place. Aim for for a balanced overall look.
  • Don’t enter too many classes. It takes a time to gather, inspect, choose and stage each exhibit well.
  • Pick everything the morning of the show when everything is fresh. A vegetable judge will open pods, snap beans and rhubarb, looking for crispness.
  • Look out for pests – gently shake flowers to dislodge flea beetles or place them near a white background to encourage insects out.  Greenfly infestations can be brushed off stems with a soft paintbrush.
  • Wilting leaves, marked or blighted veg and dying petals will all lose you points.
  • Read up on the rules – if you know what the judges are looking for you are more likely to have the confidence to give it a try.
  • Don’t be disheartened if you don’t win. Look round, see where other entries were better and set out to beat them next year!

One more thing. If you’d prefer not to have an entry sold or auctioned at the end of a Show, mark it clearly ‘Not for sale’.

Like more detail?

Much work has gone into the guide produced by Alton Horticultural Society. Covering everything from fruit to photography by way of baking and handcrafts, it’s here

The Hayling Island Horticultural Society also provides something much on the same lines; check the links on right side of this page.

The ultimate guide can be bought from the RHS  for £8, though it covers many other aspects of organising and running a Flower Show.