Gardens of South Africa; and Parlour Show Tips

Presentation:  Secret Gardens of South Africa.  

Eryl Morton presents a photographic travelog of South Africa. In Fall 2015, Eryl & husband/tour organizer Lynn Morton led a group including VHS members to 20 private & 6 botanic gardens, plus wineries. Their presentation features this land’s historic architecture, majestic wildlife, and designer landscapes.


Workshop:  Parlour Show Tips – What Makes A Winner?

Jacqueline Bradbury, accredited horticultural judge, led a workshop on Parlour Show hints.

The January edition of our Gardenry newsletter lists the year’s submissions for the judged portion of the VHS Parlour show, and each month’s newsletter and our website have reminders of the next Parlour Show listings.  As well, members are welcome to bring in anything from their garden, greenhouse, or houseplants to place in the open portion (not judged) for us all to enjoy.

What to show? The best of what you’ve got of course, but as well exotics, unusual or novel varieties, and even ‘sports’ and mutants. If you are breeding or trialing new hybrids, bring some in to show us. Members may ask for pieces to trial themselves.

 Staging: When you bring in your specimens, use the paper slips to write down as clearly as possible the full Latin name, as well as common names, and any other info that members may find interesting. Place carefully so that the best side is facing front. If you are showing a piece of plant, choose the green plastic ‘bikini’ (top and bottom cup and saucers that hold the plant) that is the appropriate size, stuffing with crumpled newspaper if necessary to stabilize it, and fill with tepid water. Any damaged, diseased, dead and dirty bits should be removed. Branches can be gently bent for a pleasing form, and excess trimmed. No seedheads should be shown with ‘flowering trusses’, but some buds are okay. Petals of florets can be separated, and lower ‘guard petals’ of roses may be removed. Judging happens only on the material above the top of the plastic cup, so arrangements can be improvised from below.

Conditioning: For best results (for show or simply for cut flowers indoors) water well and fertilize for a few days before. Pick the healthiest specimens in late afternoon or early morning, with a bucket of water. Cut several inches longer than needed with a sharp knife at a slant, then recut under water. Remove unnecessary foliage (keeping ample of the best) and ‘harden off’ by placing into deep tepid water in a cool dark place overnight. Stems may be cut again under water just before the show. Brittle stemmed plants (eg, mums) should be broken. Milky stems (euphorbia, hydrangea, poppies) should have stem ends sealed, either with charring or boiling water—with each cut. Woody trusses may benefit from stripping off lower bark. Flowers may be stored in your fridge to keep fresh.  Hybrid tea roses should be picked when ¾ full. (See Bea Kempster’s book for more info on preparing for shows). Potted plants and hanging baskets will benefit from being turned ¼ every day before to encourage full and even growth.

 Fruits and veggies: only crabapples can be polished, otherwise, leave the ‘bloom’ on fruit. Root vegetables should have the roots removed with the base fringe intact.

Pears and plums should be picked before becoming soft, and veggies may be blanched. All should be clean, uniform and healthy, and picked for peak eating. Nuts should be opened, but judges will open fruits and veggies.

Pay attention to the listings. When ‘multiple stems’ are required, it is to see if the entire plant is healthy. For scoring, points are added and subtracted according to a schedule. Standards for horticultural show judging that can be found on the B.C. Council of Gardens website.

To become a judge, there are courses and workshops with the B.C. Council of Garden Clubs and the Van Island Horticultural Judges Group. Judges fees and travel expenses are paid through Ag Canada at agricultural fairs, and at garden club shows and fairs around the area by the various clubs.