How to Enter a Bloom at a
What can be simpler than entering a bloom in a camellia show? This seemingly simple task can be confusing to the first time exhibitor and there are many pitfalls to be avoided. In this article we will explain the "Do's and Don'ts" for entering blooms.
Do get a copy of the show program. Every show is different with different color requirements for entry tags and different divisions and classes. Some early season shows make no distinction between treated (gibbed) and untreated blooms while shows later in the year usually have separate divisions for treated and untreated blooms. Some shows have a Novice Division for growers that have never won an award (winning ribbons does not count) at an American Camellia Society (ACS) cooperative show. You MUST specify the division or class in which your bloom will be entered. Sometimes you will have to make a choice. For example a novice might enter a bloom in the Novice Division or in another competitive division or you might have a Grace Albritton whose size is listed as "miniature to small" in the Southern California Camellia Society Camellia Nomenclature. In the later case you could enter the bloom in a miniature division or in a Japonica division depending on the size of the bloom. The ACS regulations set up a minimum standard and allow local shows a tremendous latitude in setting the rules of competition. Read your show program carefully!
Do know the names of the varieties that you will show. Only varieties registered with the ACS, seedlings, and mutants may be entered in competition. If you are a first time exhibitor it is extremely unlikely that you will have a seedling or mutant to enter so we will not explain the rules and regulations governing entry of such blooms. Blooms must be entered under their registered names. For example, Mathotiana has many synonyms including the locally popular one Rubra. While the Entries and Classification Committee is sure to correct the entry if you get this one wrong, they may miss less common ones like entering a Rosea Superba Variegated as a Margaret Sandusky. (Of course our show committee would never make a mistake like that!) If you dont know the name of your flower you should bring it to a meeting of your local camellia society where there is a good chance that someone there will be able to give you an identification. Please dont bring it to the show because nearly everybody there will be extremely busy and will not have enough time to give your question the attention it deserves.
Don't remove the flower from the stem. The Rules and Regulations Governing Procedures & Judging of American Camellia Society Cooperative Shows (Revised March 5, 1992) says NOTHING about stems, length of stems, or flowers being attached to stems in the rules governing acceptance of exhibits. However, most show programs exhibition rules give a required length of stem and some require that the flower be attached to the stem. For example, the Gainesville Camellia Society's show program states "All competitive entries shall be attached to their own stems. The stems should be 2 inches and not over 2 ½ inches long and must have one or two leaves." while the Valdosta Camellia Society's show program has "Containers are furnished for blooms which have stems of no more than three inches and no more than two leaves. One bloom to a stem." Of course, if the flower is removed from the stem, it cannot "drink" while being exhibited and will show its distress before the judging starts.
Do have one or two leaves. The ACS Rules and Regulations Governing Procedures & Judging of American Camellia Society Cooperative Shows (Revised March 5, 1992) states "One or two leaves, not necessarily attached, with color and vigor characteristics of the variety must be exhibited with each bloom." While the leaves displayed need not be from the same bush as the bloom, it is usually not a good idea to use a leaf from another variety.
Don't be intimidated. It is very intimidating to see others unpacking box after box of perfect blooms the size of a head of cabbage and all you have are a few plants that you bought at a local nursery. That doesn't mean that you don't stand a chance. After all, The Judges Have Spoken 1994-95 tells us that Pink Perfection won 27 prizes nationwide, Mathotiana won 6, Prof. Charles S. Sargent won 6, Debutante won 3, Rose Dawn won 2, Dr. Tinsley won 3, and Prince Eugene Napoleon won 3. Last year you may have left an award winning bloom in your yard!
Do get a copy of the Southern California Camellia Society Camellia Nomenclature and Camellia Nomenclature Supplement. On the entry card you must circle the size listed in the Camellia Nomenclature for that variety. Bloom are characterized as Miniature, Small, Medium, Large, and Very Large. Some blooms straddle a size range and have two sizes listed such as Medium to Large, for example. The reason why you have to do this is that within some divisions there are awards for the best bloom within designated size ranges. For example, at the Gainesville Camellia Society's show there are awards for Best unprotected untreated Japonica bloom 4" or larger and Best unprotected untreated Japonica bloom under 4" but over 2 ½" even though such blooms are both entered in Division I - Japonica blooms, unprotected, not chemically treated. The first prize is for blooms that are Large and Very Large while the second prize is for blooms that are Small and Medium. Miniature blooms have their own category regardless of species at the Gainesville Show. If you don't have a Camellia Nomenclature, don't worry. There will be a lot of well used copies floating around the show.
Don't have multiple entries of the same variety. Some people specialize in the Sweepstakes where a prize is given to the exhibitor that gets the most blue ribbons, with red and yellow ribbon totals as tie breakers. Such exhibitors try hard to get as many blue ribbons as possible and often will have multiple entries of a given variety in an attempt to maximize their chance for getting the blue ribbon. I personally believe that this practice hurts their chances of getting blooms on the contention table. Usually blooms are sent up to the contention table when they possess superior form, color, markings, size, texture and substance, freshness, and distinctiveness. Your superior bloom has a better chance of standing out to the judges better if it is not competing with your other beautiful and nearly identical blooms. If you do have three excellent blooms that are very similar you should consider entering them as a Plate of Three. Some shows restrict the number of entries and set a limit of two or three blooms of any variety per exhibitor.
Do learn more about camellias. The best way to learn about a lot of varieties is to work Placement at a camellia show. The best way to learn about what the judges look for is to work as a Clerk. Contact the Show Chairman or Head Clerk for this opportunity at our show.
Do ask for advice. It is my experience that camellia exhibitors are the most generous competitors that I have had the pleasure to know. Everyone is so enthused with their avocation that they will freely dispense their wisdom and advice. It seems that every time I go to somebody's garden I leave with more scions than I can handle of their very best, show-winning varieties.
Now that the "mysteries" of entering a bloom have been dispelled, I expect ALL the members of the Gainesville Camellia Society to enter blooms in our show this year. Hope to see you on the Head Table!
An Example of an Entry Card. Entry cards must be filled out correctly. Note the variety name, size, statement of chemical treatment, Division, competitor's Exhibitor's Number or Name and address are entered on both the top and bottom portions. It is easy to bring some of your personal name and address labels for this. The variety name must be the priority name in the Camellia Nomenclature and the size must be the size given in the Camellia Nomenclature. The Division or Class is determined from the show program, e.g. Untreated, Unprotected Japonicas are usually Division I. Note that often different divisions have different color tags or special tags (Seedlings and Mutants, for example). Such color coding aids in placement and having all the same color tags in a Division makes a better display.
It is a good idea to use pencil or inks that do not run when wet to fill in the entry cards. Quite often they get wet during placement.
David W. Mikolaitis--GCS Member