Showing plants, staging etc.

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peterb
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Showing plants, staging etc.

Post by peterb »

A recent thread brought up the issue of staging in the judging of plant shows. As you can imagine, this has been a very controversial issue and people have devoted a lot of time and energy to arguing the pros and cons. I have heard 4 different tales of how this question actually led to new clubs forming, splitting off from existing clubs. People get very upset about this sort of thing!

Here are the guidelines from the CSSA website:

"Staging is the manner in which the plant is displayed, and includes pots, top dressing, and cleanliness. Pot may be ordinary clay, stoneware, ceramic, or even plastic, but they must be clean (no alkali encrustations, algae, dirt clinging to the pot, etc) and in good condition (no chips or cracks). The pot should be of a complimentary size, shape and color for the plant: no garish, shiny colors or elaborate designs, and no fanciful, overly ornate or too-cute shapes. Remember, you are displaying the plant-not the pot, and while the pot should always subtly enhance the plant, it should never overwhelm or detract from it in any way. The judges will, however take the total effect into consideration. The plant must, of course be upright and centered in the pot. Top dressing is optional, but generally adds to the well-groomed effect. It may consist of clean gravel, small natural looking pebbles, lava rock (scoria), or course sand or decomposed granite. Aside from being neat appearing, topdressing is also beneficial to the plant; it keeps the soil from cracking, conserves moisture and discourages weeds. Here again, as with the pot, it should never detract from or clash with the plant. If you choose not to use top dressing, the soil around the plant should be clean and fresh looking and free of weeds and debris. The plant itself, should be as immaculate as you can possibly make it-no spider webs and (worse) no spiders, no snail tracks or (worse!) snails, etc ad nauseum, and it should be cleaned of hard water marks on the leaves or body and free of dust, dead leaves and other debris. Dead blooms should be removed, unless they have been left on the plant for the purpose of setting seed."

I went looking for BCSS guidelines on staging but didn't find any online.

As I said in the other thread, I've never shown plants. I have attended a great many shows, however, and I always am impressed by the skill of some of the more expert growers. Most of the shows I've been to have included blue ribbons for plants in ordinary containers, nothing too fancy. The plants themselves have always been meticulously grown and groomed, however.

Anyone want to share their perspective on staging in show scores and what their show experiences have been like?

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daiv
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Re: Showing plants, staging etc.

Post by daiv »

Hi Peter, at the Missouri conference last summer, they had the 3 judges do a "live" judging where they discussed the things their reasoning openly with anyone welcome to listen. It took a long time to get through it, but it was very informative and interesting.

In one case, a judge criticized the use of smooth, round pebbles for top dressing - saying that the plants don't grow in a riverbed. However, the other judge pointed out that indeed some do grow in dried up riverbeds with smooth round rocks, but furthermore that the staging and top-dressing is about a nice potted plant in cultivation, not a recreation of habitat. It was a friendly disagreement, but it does illustrate that there is a human opinion factor at work in the judging process despite the well-defined rules.
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DaveW
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Re: Showing plants, staging etc.

Post by DaveW »

The BCSS does issue a booklet which I think is still called "Guide to Shows" for both judges and exhibitors. It also runs a Judges Course and only people who have attended that and received a judges qualification as either a Cactus or Other Succulent judge, or qualified to judge both can judge BCSS shows. The Guide to Shows, in view of different classifications and frequent reclassifications of plants, also contains a workable classification to be used for our shows, though that may not exactly follow any current classification. I cannot find any online copy of this Guide to Shows but an account of what this course requires and the judging methods are in these links. NAS by the way is something our judges write on the entry card if the plant does not conform to the Show Schedule so is disqualified and means either "Not According to Schedule" or "Not As Schedule" depending which version you prefer, though they both mean the same!:-

http://northants.bcss.org.uk/nl172/nl172show.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://birmingham.bcss.org.uk/?p=602" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Images from the BCSS 2012 National show here:-

http://www.bcss.org.uk/foruma/viewtopic ... 1&t=156475" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

We don't place the same emphasis on fancy containers as you seemingly do in the US. Most of ours are now exhibited in plastic pots since they are easy to clean, unlike terracotta/clay which were mainly used here in the 1960, and not many use glazed pots. In our shows, provided the pot and any top dressing is neat and clean, it is the plant being judged not the top dressing or the pot. The purpose of our Judges Course is so all judges "sing from the same hymn sheet" and you don't get one judge saying round pebbles are wrong and another they are correct.
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Re: Showing plants, staging etc.

Post by Tony »

I really enjoy showing my plants and especially, pushing the limits of the guidelines.
I hear people at at every show I have been involved with that are witnessing a C&S show for the first time exclaim,
"These are not just plants in pots, they are works of art!"
The staging aspect makes a show far more interesting and attracts more people to the hobbie and that's what C&S show and sales are all about. :)
Forget the dog...Beware of the plants!!!

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peterb
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Re: Showing plants, staging etc.

Post by peterb »

I am surprised there isn't more input on this thread. I guess showing plants is really not that widespread an activity. It does seem that the CACSS has about 7 people who show every year and that's that. I wonder if there might be ways to coax more people into showing?

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Saxicola
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Re: Showing plants, staging etc.

Post by Saxicola »

There are tons of entries at the various shows in Southern California, but I don't think many of those people are on the forum. As I mentioned elsewhere, I'd happily show my plants if pots and staging weren't a part of the score. I'm not saying the pot has to be very fancy, but it pretty much has to be a hand made clay pot. If you try to show a plant in a standard plastic nursery pot or a mass produced (plain) terra cotta pot it will get docked points. Same goes for topdressing. I'd rather spend my money on new plants or items actually required for growing plants.
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Re: Showing plants, staging etc.

Post by Buck Hemenway »

Sorry to be a little late to this. I have experience in this area.

I know that the UK point of view on the "staging" aspect of showing plants differs somewhat from what we do in the US.

What is missing from the CSSA guidelines (with which I agree) is the actual rule sheet for judging the plant. Depending on the show and which organization is sponsoring it, the rules vary slightly. In all cases however, the plant is by far the most important factor in the final determination of the paces awarded. The plant's condition, age and difficulty of culture count for a minimum of 75% of the final judges value. Sometimes as high as 85%. The "staging" can count for as much as 20% and as little as 10%. Nomenclature (having the correct name) is usually counted as 5% and is usually used as a tie breaker between equally qualified specimens.

We know that in the UK, some shows strive to have all entries in exactly the same containers so that the "staging" aspect of the presentation is discounted completely.

I say it is a matter of opinion. One set of show sponsors looks at the situation differently than the other.

That said, I love to see a plant in a plain plastic container sitting on the trophy table as best in show.
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Re: Showing plants, staging etc.

Post by DaveW »

Maybe the CSSA should come up with a set of suggested judging rules for the local clubs to comment on Buck? If accepted the organisers could simply state in their schedule "To be judged by CSSA rules"? No reason they could not also produce a guide like the BCSS "Guide to Shows" on behalf of the affiliated clubs. I don't think the name on the plant label matters in our shows, just that it is entered in the correct class since there is really no such thing as "correct nomenclature", only valid nomenclature, and that can mean a plant can have many valid names. Obviously show organisers have to adopt some form of workable classification for plants, but does it really matter if a plant labelled Digitostigma rather than Astrophytum is entered in an Astrophytum class in a show, or Rimocactus laui in a class for Eriosyce, since presumably it is in the correct class as far as the show is concerned?

Not sure our shows do strive to have plants in all the same containers Buck. It's just that since the container does not count in the judging provided it is clean and neat there is no incentive to indulge in expensive fancy containers to try and impress the judge. Also since virtually all our plants are grown in greenhouses people do not have to dig them up and put them in pots specially for showing, therefore they get exhibited in the pots they are normally grown in.

If you mean we have certain container size limits on certain classes that is so, but the rules describe how they should be measured and tolerances allowed, which obviously would not be needed if everybody was required to use the same containers.

If you don't have a Judges Course so all are "singing from the same hymn sheet", then perhaps the CSSA should publish a "Guide to Judging" in order to rule out judges pointlessly arguing whether top dressing should be round or angular, rather reminiscent of which end you should open your eggs in Gulliver's Travels. :lol:

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index ... 741AAMgfLH" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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tumamoc
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Re: Showing plants, staging etc.

Post by tumamoc »

While I don't claim to grow any show quality plants or know how to successfully display them, I think a nice container and top dressing for your favorite plants makes them all the more enjoyable to look at.
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Re: Showing plants, staging etc.

Post by DaveW »

But do they use fancy pots in other specialist flower shows? They don't in the UK, they are all just stuck in standard glass vases or metal green vases, often supplied by the organisers for uniformity since it's the flowers being judged not the container. You only get fancy containers used in flower arranging competitions here where it's overall effect being judged, not the individual blooms or plants. "Horses for courses"! :lol:

http://wvmonarchfestival.com/why-rose-shows.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://www.chrysanthemums.info/shows10/willenhall10.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Evidently it's the same in some specialist US shows, so why be different for cacti? It's not a pottery show it's a plant show, so why try and "gild the lily"? Agreed everything should be clean and neat, but the container should not be in competition with the plant, or the next entrants container since that is detracting from the purpose of the show.

http://longisland.about.com/od/shopping ... ries_7.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

If cactus shows continue down the fancy container path there will be "cacti in a basket" next, with all flower petals having to be curled and primped like the flower arrangers do! :shock: :lol:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wink717/7038196901/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Showing plants, staging etc.

Post by Tony »

Hmmm... "cacti in a basket".
Maybe I will try that next. :-k

The way I see it, the C&S shows aren't really about competing to see who can grow the nicest plants, just about anyone can grow a perfect plant around here. They are about showing off these amazing plants to the public and if a grower has the means, it doesn't hurt to show them in something other than a nursery can.

I have around forty different plants that have won ribbons, many of them firsts, in tera cotta and even a few in plastic. So its not really necessary to have a plant in a high dollar pot if the plant is high quality. Three years ago at a Gates event, the best plant in show out of around 500 entries was a crested epithelantha micromeris in a plain, plastic pot. But I personally prefer the way my plants look in containers that are different and out of the ordinary.
Forget the dog...Beware of the plants!!!

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peterb
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Re: Showing plants, staging etc.

Post by peterb »

Interesting perspectives. As little knowledge and experience as I have with showing C and S, I have far less regarding other plant and flower shows.
Thanks for adding a few other perspectives, DaveW.

I wonder if there could be a special class for staging/pots? I guess I lean more toward the plant itself being the thing and love the look of a very well grown plant in a simple and unobtrusive pot. My favorite look for most cacti is plain, clean terra cotta and not much top dressing. I think a lot of cacti in particular stand out very nicely against that rather bland background. But that's just the way my eye works.

Another area that seems to garner a bit of controversy is size/age versus beauty. I have seen some truly gnarly but obviously ancient specimens sporting blue ribbons. Sometimes, much better looking but younger and smaller examples of the same plants are on the table, with third place finishes. Interesting.

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DaveW
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Re: Showing plants, staging etc.

Post by DaveW »

You can have two types of show. A competitive show, usually mainly intended for members to which the public is also admitted and where competition is the main function. Or conversely you can have an educational show put on solely for the publics education where no competitive element exists, or even a non competitive display as is often put on for the clubs publicity at other horticultural shows.

The other version of this is a non competitive show by the club itself, where aside from signing up new members the entrance fee the public pays helps to swell club funds and pay the overheads of staging. However the latter is true for competitive shows too since the public is usually charged an entrance fee to cover cost of staging.

In non competitive shows the displays are usually composed of many members plants aggregated together, whereas in competitive shows each members plants are segregated in the class entered and the winners names displayed after judging.

This is what I mean by a display, in this case it is a competitive one put on by a nurseryman to try and win a medal at Chelsea, but clubs can do them non competitively for the public too.

http://fineartamerica.com/featured/chel ... llums.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Showing plants, staging etc.

Post by Peterthecactusguy »

lol like usual I am late to this conversation, but I wonder, what different does it make over what top dressing you choose, or what type of pot. I choose pots based on what is best for the plant and since I was given a few hundred empty plastic pots I use those. I can understand everyone having their own views on what pots to use for a show and stuff like that, but being honest, I will never show my cacti in a show. I grow my plants the way I want too, and I don't want some old know-it-all to tell me how THEY would like to see my plants. I would rather grow them for myself, I guess.

BTW I have been the the CAZCSS show a few times. Some of the plants were amazing. A few one that were in plain plastic pots that were black.
This is just my .02 cents lol
Here's to you, all you insidious creatures of green..er I mean cacti.
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