Monthly Parlour Show

The Parlour Show is where VHS members Show What They Grow and Share What They Know.

Entering the Parlour Show allows members to:

  • show what can be grown here;
  • display interesting or unusual plant material;
  • learn how to exhibit,
  • have unknown plants identified; and
  • contribute to member enjoyment of meetings.

Bring a sample of your favourite plant to the meeting. Display vases and help setting up will be provided by other members.

Judging for our Parlour Shows is by qualified members of Vancouver Island Horticulture Judges Group. To become a judge, there are courses and workshops with the BC 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. Standards for horticultural show judging can be found on the BC Council of Gardens website.

For more information, or if you have questions, please contact

Printable Docs:
Schedule for the 2023 Monthly Parlour Show can be downloaded here.

Click here for the Schedule for 2023

The VHS Parlour Show takes place at our monthly general meetings. There are no shows in December when we have our Potluck, or January or August when we have no meetings scheduled.

Preparing for a Parlour Show and General Information

What to show?

The best of what you’ve got, of course! Though we also enjoy 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.

How to Stage?

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.


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, immediately place in 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 crab-apples 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.


Compositions use dried, weathered or treated plant material and/or accessories, with or without fresh plant material. Artificial flowers/foliage prohibited.

Arrangements use fresh cut plant material in containers, with bases if necessary. Accessories permitted if schedule so states.

A Design is either an arrangement or a composition.

Anything you wish to show, but which is not covered in the classes for the month, should be entered in the Unlisted class.

The Display table is for anything of interest that you do not wish to have judged. Members are welcome to bring in anything from their garden, greenhouse, or houseplants to place in the display category (not judged) for all to enjoy.

Points Awarded for Specimen Classes

1st—3 points;
2nd—2 points;
3rd—1 point;

Honorable mention—½ point. Extra ½ point given to correctly named exhibit(s).

Points for Designs/Compositions/Arrangements

1st—5 points;
2nd—3 points;
3rd—2 points.

The award for most Points is awarded at our December meeting/potluck.