ALBERT PARSONS/FOR THE SUN
In a show there are classes for single peonies as well as double peonies — like this beauty.
As I look at the calendar and observe that July is just around the corner, I realize that those folks who enter horticultural exhibits in fairs and horticultural shows are gearing up for another season.
The July 3 Peony Show in Minnedosa also has a class for iris exhibits. (ALBERT PARSONS/FOR THE SUN)
This single peony would be a sure winner in any show. (ALBERT PARSONS/FOR THE SUN)
An exhibit of cut flowers is very attractive when staged properly. (ALBERT PARSONS/FOR THE SUN)
Many people who do not exhibit also enjoy viewing the exhibits at these events and learn a lot about plants and gardening in general.
Although I suppose there are some exhibitors who participate in such shows mainly for the prize money, I have come to realize that mostly we do it for the fun of it, for the challenge, and perhaps partly because of a competitive streak that lurks beneath the surface in many of us!
If the prize money was calculated on a per hour basis, the hourly wage for growing and exhibiting in such shows would indeed be rather puny.
In general, agricultural fairs pay better prize money than do horticultural society shows due to the fact that the provincial agriculture department subsidizes both the prize money and the cost of judges for rural fairs, while horticultural societies lost such funding in the 1990s.
Most agricultural fairs take place in July while horticultural shows usually are staged in August.
Exhibiting is fun. The first step is to lay your hands on a book that lists the sections and requirements for the exhibits. The next step is to wander through the garden to see if you have anything that you might be able to exhibit in the show.
If you are a novice exhibitor, look for novice classes or try just a few things to see how you make out. Ask an experienced exhibitor for suggestions — most participants that I have met over the years are only too happy to share their knowledge with others.
There are usually children’s classes, so if you have children or grandchildren who are finding time long during the summer, you might encourage them to take this on as a project. Agricultural fairs have extensive junior classes, not only in the horticultural sections, but in craft and baking classes as well.
When choosing flowers, fruits or vegetables to exhibit, choose specimens that are just approaching their peak, that are free of blemishes, and that are true to form for that particular item.
If you are unsure how to stage and exhibit, ask an experienced exhibitor or better yet, secure a copy of an exhibitor’s guide from a Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives office.
This guide will also tell you what the judges are looking for when they choose the prize winners. They look for uniformity — this is a big one when exhibiting several stems of a flower or several specimens of a vegetable, so choose specimens that are as much alike as possible.
Colour, size, freshness, condition, and attractiveness of the display are also taken into account. Uniqueness and creativity come into play when things such as displays of vegetables, herb collections, bouquets and flower arrangements are judged.
Potted plants is an easy class to enter and a good way for a novice exhibitor to get his or her feet wet. Choose an attractive potted plant that fits a certain class, clean it up, display it in an attractive jardinière, and enter it in the show.
An herb collection is also relatively easy to put together. Simply snip a few pieces of several herbs and place each herb into a separate container — it is best if all the containers are the same and they are placed on a suitable tray.
So, as fair season arrives and horticultural shows are staged, endeavour to participate in your local event. You might get hooked and become a regular exhibitor like some of the veteran exhibitors you will meet while taking part in such an event.
I must tell you that the Minnedosa Horticultural Society is hosting its annual Peony Show (I think it is one of only two annual peony shows held in the province) on Tuesday, July 3 in the Ukrainian Hall on Fifth Street NW in Minnedosa.
Exhibits must be put in place between 9 and 11 a.m. and the show and tea are open to the public from 2-4 p.m.
Perhaps you will attend to view the exhibits. Maybe you will even decide you have a prize-winning peony or iris in your garden to bring to the show — call me if you need information about exhibiting.
Albert Parsons is a consultant for garden design and landscaping who lives in Minnedosa.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 28, 2012